America's Cup 2021: Auckland's COVID-19 alert levels may hold key to 'Auld Mug'

Win the start, win the race - that's the trend emerging during this America's Cup, but it could be about to change.

With Auckland still at COVID-19 Alert Level 2, the Cup's most volatile racecourses are out of action, but the decision on whether Auckland will drop down to Level 1 could hold the key to unlocking these tracks.

Sheds were shut up and no-one could be seen at either Emirates Team NZ or Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on Thursday. 

Both teams were clearly making the most of the last day off, until someone lifts the 'Auld Mug'.

"Do maintenance on the boat, make sure it's a 100 percent for tomorrow - which it will be - and for us as a sailing team and design group, go through the data of yesterday," reflects Team NZ flight controller Blair Tuke.

While both teams will analyse that data in detail, on the surface, the boats appear fairly even to former Team NZ helmsman Rod Davis.

"I think New Zealand maybe had a little edge, but i think they were close enough," he tells Newshub. 

That's why winning the pre-start has become so important. In the past 14 races, only once has a team come from behind to win and Wednesday stayed true to that trend.

"I think the margins in these boats are getting smaller and smaller, so any loss is very hard to come back from," says Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling.

But that could be about to change. If the Government decides to drop Auckland to Alert Level 1 over the weekend, that will see the reinstatement of Courses B and C - the ones closest to shore, and with more wind shifts and puffs. 

"B and C are what we call more volatile racecourses," says Davis. "That in itself will lower the start premium a little bit." 

That volatility will create more passing opportunities, but that will all depend on what the Government decides.

While they would love to bring the racing closer to shore, Team NZ are not fazed.

"We're happy to race in whatever conditions and whatever course," insists Tuke. 

And for Friday at least, that will mean back on either A or E.

Join us at 4:15pm Friday for live updates of the America's Cup between Team NZ and Luna Rossa