Emirates Team New Zealand say they are one critical point away from agreeing terms with Alinghi that could see the Swiss America's Cup holder come to Auckland for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series this summer.
It could also wrap up Team NZ's court action against Alinghi.
That one outstanding point is significant, however, as Alinghi have baulked at providing certainty the next multi-challenger America's Cup regatta will take place by 2011.
Emirates Team New Zealand chief Grant Dalton says Alinghi's response to the invitation ("drop your court case against us and we'll come") had led to offers and counter-offers.
Team NZ initiated two US court actions this year, arguing Alinghi's decision not to compromise with BMW Oracle meant Alinghi could not live up to assurances of staging the 33rd America's Cup in 2009.
Emirates Team New Zealand had been preparing for a 2009 "all-challengers" regatta based on those assurances from Alinghi. They are seeking US$37m if the regatta is delayed until 2010 and US$50m if delayed until 2011.
But now Dalton says the tide of public opinion is shifting away from court action and the Louis Vuitton series gave the chance for the two teams to settle their differences.
Team NZ had looked at all possible permutations arising from whoever wins the Alinghi-Oracle court case which has plagued the Cup for the last year and a half. From those permutations, they put a series of conditions to Alinghi.
If Alinghi fulfilled those conditions, he said, Team NZ would drop its court actions. The Swiss had responded positively to all except the "certainty" clause.
"That's what it has been about for us and for the other challengers - certainty," says Dalton. "We need to know what will be happening around the next America's Cup; that there is an absolute date of 2011."
While that date and certainty is still a key issue, Dalton says the two teams are otherwise in agreement.
"New Zealanders are over court action," he said. "It has damn near killed the America's Cup.
"Now the Louis Vuitton Pacific series, the announcement of the Emirates sponsorship and the TP52 series are positive developments - and we are more than interested in settling matters with Alinghi and them coming to New Zealand and we are trying to work through that."
Certainly the Louis Vuitton series, plus the announcement this week that Emirates are increasing their sponsorship (and that Dean Barker will skipper a TP52 yacht for Team NZ) is the greatest step towards "certainty" for the team for some time.
The TP52 is providing much-needed competition for America's Cup sailors hungry for racing. The Emirates Team NZ yacht will be launched in February and compete in the Mediterranean TP52 circuit next year.
However, it still might not be plain sailing for Team NZ.
America's Cup legal observer, Cory Friedman, writing in the Scuttlebutt website, called the Team NZ case "The Lawsuit To Nowhere".
"It appears," he wrote, "that TNZ's cases were rather poorly thought out... While a party can always plead inconsistently, at some point inconsistency becomes incoherence. TNZ seems to be there, as over and over again opposing counsel was able to turn TNZ's factual allegations back upon TNZ to undercut key elements of TNZ's effort to avoid arbitration."
Friedman said arbitration would be a death knell for Team NZ's case but his article did not take into account that Team NZ could appeal if the matter went to arbitration.
Nor did it factor in the increasing likelihood that Alinghi, faced with a Louis Vuitton regatta actually getting America's Cup sailors and yachts on the water, might be keen to draw a line under all the court action.
In the end, it may depend on how strongly the Swiss think they are placed legally against Oracle and Team NZ, balanced against their wish to get the Cup out of the courts.