Team New Zealand Friday confirmed British sailing legend Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK as the challenger of record for the next edition of the regatta won by the Kiwis this week.
The New Zealanders also said the spectacular 23-metre (75-foot) AC75 foiling monohulls that debuted in Auckland would be used for the next two versions of the event.
“It is very exciting to have a new Challenger of Record to continue to build the scale of the America’s Cup globally,” Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton said in a statement.
“The AC75s and the unprecedented broadcast reach of the exciting racing from Auckland’s stunning Waitemata Harbour have really put Auckland and the America’s Cup at the forefront of international sport.”
The challenger of record for the just completed America’s Cup was Italy’s Luna Rossa, which Team New Zealand defeated 7-3 on Wednesday to retain the trophy known as “the Auld Mug”.
While other teams can enter the regatta, the nominated challenger helps negotiate the rules and conditions of the next event with the defending champion.
Ineos Team UK was eliminated in the challenger series final of this year’s regatta, losing 7-1 to Luna Rossa.
Ainslie has previously said he would swap his Olympic medals—four gold and one silver—for victory in the America’s Cup for Britain.
He said the AC75s, which reach speeds exceeding 50 knots with the hull flying above the water balanced on foils, had breathed new life into yachting’s most prestigious event.
“The introduction of the AC75 class of yacht has proven to be a transformative moment in the history of the America’s Cup and will be the bedrock of a really bright future,” he said in a statement.
Team New Zealand announced a number of criteria for the next America’s Cup but gave no hint about where it will be held, saying only “there are a number of different options”.
Many Kiwis, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, have said they want it in Auckland in 2024, although Team New Zealand is a private syndicate with no obligation to stage the regatta in its home nation.
It confirmed last month that it was canvassing bids to hold the event at foreign cities, which would be expected to pay the New Zealand team a hefty hosting fee.
There have even been unconfirmed reports that a one-off challenge between Team New Zealand and Ineos Team UK could take place as early as next year off the Isle of Wight, where the inaugural race was held in 1851.
Team New Zealand said it was looking to cut the cost of entering the regatta in a bid to attract more than the three challengers that took part this year.
It also tightened nationality criteria after seeing many of its top sailors and designers poached by well-funded rivals over the years.
Under the new rules, all crew members must be citizens of the country the team represents, or meet strict residency criteria.