America's Cup 2021: Team NZ boss Grant Dalton concerned for Stars and Stripes Team USA

Team NZ boss Grant Dalton.
Team NZ boss Grant Dalton. Photo credit: Getty

Stars and Stripes Team USA seem doubtful challengers for next year's America's Cup, fears Team NZ boss Grant Dalton.

Last month, the American syndicate rejected reports that funding issues would force it to withdraw from the 36th regatta, due to take place in New Zealand next year. 

Sailor Taylor Canfield insisted the team was playing a waiting game to see what effect the coronavirus pandemic would have on the event, with two World Series events already cancelled. 

But Dalton has expressed concern about Stars and Stripes, saying they are "struggling". 

"I know that the yard that was building their boat was commandeered to build PPE and that's hurt them," Dalton has told Newstalk ZB. "I'm not sure, at this point, whether it's been released to go back to the building of the boat, but they're struggling.

"I wouldn't rate them as a high chance."

With the Cagliari and Portsmouth World Series regatta cancelled, Dalton adds it's crucial for the Auckland leg in December to go ahead, but global travel restrictions mean the event is also in doubt. 

The Auckland regatta will be the only chance rivals have to examine the playing field and Dalton thinks the team that win the 'Auld Mug' in 2021 will be the one that adapt best, after the current global crisis.

Co-founders of Stars and Stripes Team USA Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield
Co-founders of Stars and Stripes Team USA Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield Photo credit: Stars and Stripes Team USA

"We need that regatta," urges Dalton. "We didn't put ourselves in the challenger rounds, like Oracle did, last time to keep an eye on everybody to see if they were faster.

"We frankly don't believe that is the right way that the Cup should be run, so this will be our only way of seeing where we check-in.

"Sport is about winning and losing, and being able to adapt. Because of COVID-19 and the disruption of all teams, the team that can adapt, keep its feet on the ground, its head out of the clouds and not panic is going to do the best.

"As Kiwis, we are quite good at that. Team NZ has been damn good at that."

Other challenges for the Cup include Luna Rossa of Italy, Ineos Team UK and American Magic.
The America's Cup is set to be contested between March 6-21.