Here's a wager – in spite of reports that Emirates Team NZ is hawking the America's Cup round to overseas venues (should they successfully defend this time), I bet the next Cup regatta will be held in Auckland.
There is a 'but'. Economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19 is painting rather a different picture of the funding of the next defence than might be popularly supposed by the man in the street.
For a start, anyone whose naming sponsor is an airline in the time of Covid is not looking forwards with any degree of certainty. Most people think the team is funded by the government and the council (they're not; the $40m went towards the event). They also hear of team principal Matteo de Nora, the team's billionaire behind the scenes (he's not; he's a multi-millionaire but, for all the significant support he has offered in the past, he is not thought to be among the top financial backers now).
So that's the 'but' – any America's Cup campaign costs gazillions; the money has to come from somewhere. However, there are several reasons for confidence regarding Auckland.
First, Covid-19 – a strength as well as a weakness. The next Cup is scheduled for 2023; anyone who maintains that the world outside New Zealand (or the parts of it that can afford to host the regatta) will be virus-free or free of complications by then has rose-tinted spectacles of Dame Edna Everage proportions. New Zealand, provided no bad outbreaks, has the ability to plan for Covid-related visits, welcoming many of the superyachts and visitors who haven't arrived this time.
Second, timing. 2023 is imminent, in America's Cup terms. If the Cup is to go to a new venue, the infrastructure required will have to be built smartly.
Third, money. The government and council have invested heavily in the Cup defence – with no decent return because of Covid-19. What we don't know is the government appetite for funding a campaign and an event with the virus possibly politically pinching the public purse strings.
The TV coverage of the regatta so far has been beamed to the rest of the world – much of which is in lockdown, in winter and/ or subject to major travel restrictions. The pictures of fans watching, of the Waitemata Harbour, the spectator fleets, and life going on as normal in a temperate climate have been stunning. The government will have noticed this major piece of tourism promotion and the financial promise it holds.
Fourth, backlash. If Team NZ take the event overseas, there could be a response similar to that of the 'Black Heart' days when some/many Kiwis got stuck into Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth for their so-called defection.
If all those factors are in play, why are ETNZ gauging interest from overseas? Because they'd be nongs if they didn't. For a start, you need to gauge interest and market prices. It also provides a lever when it comes to negotiating with the government/council – as ETNZ must shortly if they are to meet a 2023 deadline.
Just in case no public money is forthcoming or a benevolent billionaire cannot be found, testing overseas interest as a fallback is clearly a smart play.
One by-product of the team's inquiries about possible venues has been something that happens every America's Cup – a call for it to become "the Formula 1 of sailing".
That old cliché is being trotted out again, along with some consistent calls that the Cup be controlled by some sort of commission or international body to decide on all manner of things – the venue, the yachts, the costs – traditionally the province of the defender.
Ineos Team UK billionaire backer Jim Ratcliffe, the New York Yacht Club (the club behind American Magic but whose history is inextricably entwined with the America's Cup) and even New Zealand's own Chris Bouzaid – our first glamour yachtie and winner of the One Ton Cup in those salad days of the late '60s and early '70s – have all spoken up.
The NYYC – who have already made clear their desire to go back to more traditional monohulls than the foiling AC75s – may have to forgive us for some cynicism at their desire for change in the America's Cup when their 126-year possession of it resulted in no change at all.
Bouzaid, in a letter to the Herald, said he felt the Cup would be better if governed by an international body instead of the holder. Ratcliffe said: "The America's Cup needs to be…the most exciting yacht racing on the planet, like Formula One is for motor racing.
"Most importantly, you need a level playing field," he said, adding that the contest was mired in obscure rules tilted for the benefit of the defending boat and an invited Challenger of Record.
But that's just it, Jim. That's why the America's Cup is unique. It isn't fair because the defender stacks the deck to suit itself. That's why it is so satisfying to take it off the holder. That's the whole point. Find another example in sport where the challenger has to scale quite such a big Everest.
That's where all the romance and the anticipation comes from. Why lose that?
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride.
• Don't forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America's Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.