America's Cup 2017: Auckland faces shakeup for hometown defence

Now that the America's Cup is coming back to New Zealand, more details are slowly leaking out about what our defence might look like - and how it might help transform Auckland.

The idea of foiling catamarans racing under the Harbour Bridge sounds pretty amazing, but it could be just a pipe-dream.

There are three obvious options for where the races could be held:

  • Off North Shore's Long Bay - the scene of the 2000 and 2003 Cups
  • Between Rangitoto, Devonport Peninsula, and Mission Bay
  • In the Hauraki Gulf, between the Harbour Bridge and right off the CBD

In 2015, a Volvo Ocean Race was held in the Hauraki Gulf, proving it could be done despite the narrow course.

But it will all depend on which class of boat Team New Zealand chooses to go with, and CEO Grant Dalton's already dropped a few hints - catamarans could be out in favour of the more traditional mono-hulls.

"It's important we don't take away from the yachting aspect of it. It's still a race of yachtsmen, and I think just pumping oil around the boat isn't necessarily yachting," he says.

But other teams have already indicated they want the flying machines to stay.

"It would be a mistake to move away from the style of racing that we now have - I think it's been a real revolution in the America's Cup and the sport of sailing in the last five or six years," says BAR skipper Sir Ben Ainslie.

"I just can't see them wanting to change from where we are right now back into the old keel boats, I think that would be a big step backwards," adds Artemis skipper Nathan Outteridge.

Auckland itself needs to take a big step forwards too. The waterfront will have to be developed to accommodate the team bases.

Halsey wharf could be extended, or Wynard Point turned from tank farm to cup central.

As to who the challengers will be - we know Luna Rosa are in. Artemis, BAR and Alinghi are likely.

And there's hope Australia could put together a team.

It all now hinges on what Team New Zealand want to do. They say they do have a plan, and important decisions that will shape not just the Cup but Auckland will be made in the next few weeks.