America's Cup 2021: Disappointment as racing begins despite fans being unable to gather on waterfront

There's disappointment the America's Cup has still gone ahead despite fans being unable to gather under alert level 2 restrictions. 

Apart from an Air New Zealand crew member on Sunday, there have been no new community cases of COVID-19 for 10 days. Some America's Cup fans believe Auckland should've moved to level 1 early to help accommodate fans for the racing.

The stage was set for tens of thousands, but at the opening race on Wednesday, there were only a few people.

More arrived as the racing got closer, even so, bars went without.

"When you're down to 100 people and you can take 250 - 300 people, it's quite disheartening for everyone involved," says Trick Hartley, owner of Conservatory Bar.

Level 2 restrictions put the kibosh on spectators in the America's Cup village and a limit for local bars with prime viewing real estate.

"It's like winning the bar lottery and losing your lottery ticket or having it taken away from you," Hartley says.

There were no fan zones and certainly no one watching the big screen. One of the many empty America's Cup facilities the Government and Auckland Council spent $250 million on to cater for around 30,000 fans a day.

On Wednesday, it felt more like 30 people. But as Team New Zealand prepared to go out onto the water, so did the rule book.

Team New Zealand wore masks, but most of the public didn't. There was little social distancing and definitely more than 100 people.

"Well, we've had no cases for some time now. I think people have to make individual choices. I think businesses are aware of the rules," says Viv Beck, chief executive of Heart of the City.

Rules many say should be alert level 1.

"We are getting to a point now where the economic cost is so big that it's really time to look at how we're working through these particular outbreaks," Beck says.

But while it may not be 'level fun' yet, some fans made sure they still enjoyed a 'level brew'.

Join us at 4:15pm, Friday for the next America's Cup race between Team NZ and Luna Rossa