ANDREW GOURDIE: Make the America's Cup great again!


What a day for Team New Zealand, what a day for New Zealand sport, and what a day this could prove to be in the history of the America's Cup.

The 35th edition of the Cup has been exceptional, the racing has been electric, the boats have been revolutionary.

But that should not hide the fact that Oracle Team USA has overseen a nasty period in the Cup's history. They have left their mark with these awe-inspiring foiling catamarans, and they certainly deserve credit for that.

But with Team New Zealand as their primary target they have bullied rival syndicates, and by hosting the event in Bermuda they have made this an inaccessible event for fans, and reinforced the belief that the America's Cup and the sport of sailing is solely the domain of rich, old men.

That needs to change.

And having completed a resounding 7-1 victory over Oracle this morning to reclaim the Auld Mug, Peter Burling and this team of young, innovative sailors can bring it home to the masses, and make the America's Cup great again.

The syndicate, their backers, and the Government have an opportunity - and perhaps, an obligation to the history of the Cup and the spirit of great sailors like Sir Peter Blake - to take the best bits of what we saw in Bermuda and bring it to an engaged audience here in New Zealand with a regatta featuring more boats racing in front of more fans. 

Make it tough for challengers, sure. But self interest should be left at the door. This competition needs familiar faces as much as it needs new ones. I spoke with Alinghi Boss Ernesto Bertarelli on the weekend and he made it clear that Oracle Team USA is the reason his syndicate's been missing from the last two regattas.

"Winning twice, and then having to face such a difficult challenge in 2010 off the water with a lot of arguments had me wanting to race elsewhere" he said.

"I love the Cup ... I'm just saying that the America's Cup is a game that is played on the shore as well as the water, and I want to see more of the game played on the water that is all."

Hear hear.

Now Team New Zealand can help him fall in love with the cup again. Luna Rossa is back as the challenger of record, that's already confirmed. If Australia can be convinced to mount their own challenge, and we see others like Sir Ben Ainslie, Nathan Outteridge, Dean Barker and, yes, even Jimmy Spithill back in four years time, then New Zealand has a chance to host what could truly be the greatest regatta in the rich history of the America's Cup.

A return to the good old days, with a modern twist. Let's hope it happens. 

Andrew Gourdie hosts Sunday Sport on RadioLIVE, every Sunday from 2-6pm.