America's Cup 2021: Team New Zealand win global recognition for sports technology, innovation

With their America’s Cup defence looming, Team New Zealand have been recognised among world sport’s top exponents of technology and innovation.

The Sports Technology Awards Group and English Institute of Sport have published their annual 'power list', with the Kiwi sailing outfit ranked third, trailling only Formula One motorsport and Tour de France cycling.

"To be honest, this came as quite a surprise to myself and the team, being included on this list of such significant sporting global entities," says Team NZ boss Grant Dalton. "Certainly, we are a sports team, but 100 percent with technology and innovation at our core.

"When you think about it, maybe it is not entirely surprising, because as an organisation, if we don't lead the wave of innovation and technology, we simply will not win the sport event on the water - it's as simple as that."

Among those ranked behind Team NZ are esteemed sporting brands like the NBA (basketball), Wimbledon (tennis), PGA (golf), Barcelona FC (football), Nike (sportswear) and ESPN (media).

Using pedal power to win the 'Auld Mug' in Bermuda three years ago, they have again tweaked the design specifications for their defence in March, launching their second-generation Te Rehutai boat last week. 

"The power list debate about inclusions and rankings was lively and enjoyable," says Sports Technology Awards chief executive Rebecca Hopkins. "Seeing the way brands understand and embrace a tech-led approach is exciting, but more than that, the ones that do it well are clearly far more robust entities.

"Team New Zealand are outstanding in the way technology runs throughout their organisation. However, they ranked so highly because of the huge degree of influence they command within their sport."  

Their campaign begins in earnest with the Christmas Race regatta from December 17-20.