Peter Burling and Blair Tuke's SailGP debut could be scuttled because the Covid-19 pandemic will leave them without a boat.
Their new F50 catamaran was sent to Bermuda incomplete but a fresh lockdown on the island means technicians won't have time to get it ready for racing on April 24 and 25.
SailGP boss Sir Russell Coutts is frantically trying to get a dispensation, supplying information about who does what on the New Zealand team to authorities.
A week-long Bermuda lockdown because of a new covid outbreak has put a cloud of confusion over the season opener in the eight-race global series.
"The New Zealand boat arrived in Bermuda unfinished because it takes considerable time to build these boats," Coutts told Bermuda's Royal Gazette.
"With the current disruption with the shipping schedule, we thought it was safer to get the boat to Bermuda and finish it here, rather than risk finishing it in New Zealand and having late shipping delayed by covid and the boat won't arrive on time.
"The problem is if we lock our staff down for a week or even a few days, we're almost certainly not going to get that boat finished in time for racing in the event, which would be obviously not the desirable position."
Coutts said all the crews needed decent training time so they could race the high speed, heavily modified boats safely, and blend in their two new women crew members. The dangers were magnified by fleet racing on a tight course.
And the weather was also proving to be a problem.
"If we get more strong winds and so forth, and we're unable to sail, and we lose (more) days now then it could really be problematic," Coutts said.
"With all these delays it's a scramble. We can still do it…but we wouldn't be able to hold the event if we can't get enough time on the water.
"Worst case scenario, if we lost too many days we would not be able to safely hold the even, and we'd have to cancel, which of course none of us want to do. We all want to turn this into a success.
"I'm optimistic that we will find a way to operate."
The second season of SailGP was abandoned last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.