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Next America's Cup taking shape as Kiwis take 'Auld Mug' home

AFP logoAFP 27/06/2017 Rebecca BRYAN

Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton holds aloft the America's Cup on stage with Helmsman Peter Burling, Principal Matteo de Nora and skipper Glenn Asby in Hamilton, Bermuda on June 26, 2017 © Provided by AFP Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton holds aloft the America's Cup on stage with Helmsman Peter Burling, Principal Matteo de Nora and skipper Glenn Asby in Hamilton, Bermuda on June 26, 2017 Team New Zealand will "do the right thing" in formulating the next America's Cup, chief executive Grant Dalton vowed after the Kiwis' stunning victory over Team USA plunged the sailing world into suspense.

"We will put into place rules and an organization of our own team New Zealand that if we're good enough we'll hold onto it and if we're not we won't," he said.

"We will not try and impose our will on it to make sure we can hold it at any cost."

In January -- months before competition began in the 35th America's Cup on Bermuda's Great Sound, defenders Oracle Team USA -- backed by tech billionaire Larry Ellison -- and four would-be challengers trumpeted a framework agreement for future Cups.

It included a regatta every two years, rather than the erratic schedule that has been the norm over the 166 years of Cup competition.

It made the America's Cup World Series an integral part of qualifying and foresaw the continued use of the spectacular foiling catamarans that produced a breathtaking show in Bermuda.

Those who signed the agreement said stability would bring down costs for competitors and broaden the appeal of the sport.

Dalton and Team New Zealand declined to opt in, however, leading to hand-wringing in the sailing world over what their defense will bring.

Dockside in Bermuda, speculation was rife that they planned strict nationality rules for crew and design staff, and possibly a return to monohull yachts -- a move hinted at by New Zealand team principal Matteo de Nora's comment that the Kiwis want to bring the America's Cup "back to the future".

Emirates Team New Zealand (R) and Oracle Team USA race in the final leg of the 35th America's Cup in the Great Sound off Hamilton, Bermuda on June 26, 2017 © Provided by AFP Emirates Team New Zealand (R) and Oracle Team USA race in the final leg of the 35th America's Cup in the Great Sound off Hamilton, Bermuda on June 26, 2017

"Everybody says it would be a mistake to change the boats," Franck Cammas, skipper of vanquished challenger Groupama Team France said. "I can't see how you can change the boats without going backward in terms of pure performance and spectacle."

But regatta director Iain Murray said that there are those who are frustrated that the bulk of the work for the six crew aboard the AC50 catamarans is grinding to power the hydraulics systems.

"I know certain sailors, one of them in particular (USA tactician) Tom Slingsby, has been quite vocal in (wanting) more sailors, more ropes, more things on the boats for sailors to do other than just provide power," Murray said.

- The yachting aspect -

Dalton echoed that sentiment.

"I think it's important that we don't take away from the yachting aspect of it," he said. "It's still a race of yachtsmen. Pumping oil around a boat is not necessarily yachting."

Dalton said there were some aspects of the framework agreement that New Zealand backs, and others, such as the biennial calendar, it disagrees with.

"I think it's important that we need to make it affordable," he said.

"But we also need to remember that it is the America's Cup. It's the top of the sport and so it's not a little beach regatta. It's never going to be cheap.

"No matter how many things you impose on it, people will always spend a fortune if they want to."

Dalton said plans for the 36th Cup would emerge in the coming weeks, after New Zealand sit down with the newly announced challenger of record Luna Rossa.

The Italian syndicate backed by Patrizio Bertelli, head of luxury fashion house Prada, pulled out of the 35th America's Cup in 2015 over a rule change.

"We do have a plan," Dalton said. "The sport needs stability. The sport is very fragmented."

Dalton said yachting has a number of great events ranging form the Volvo Ocean Race to the TP52 World Series.

"As the pinnacle, the America's Cup is an opportunity to play our part in trying to bring it all together and not stay fragmented," he said.

"Rest assured, we'll do the right thing."

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