America's Cup: INEOS could return America's Cup to NZ water after Isle of Wight defence, says billionaire backer

INEOS Team UK are prepared to defend the America's Cup on Kiwi waters, even if it was to be won in the Isle of Wight, according to billionaire backer Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Despite Emirates Team NZ defending the 'Auld Mug' in Auckland last week, defeating Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli 7-3, there is no certainty as to where the next iteration of the cup will be staged.

While Kiwi hopes are pinned on a defence in Auckland, the Isle of Wight has also emerged as a potential venue, with the UK-based INEOS now affirmed as the challenger of record.

Immediately, speculation suggested a one-off Deed of Gift race between TNZ and Team UK, to be staged in the Isle of Wight next year, before a full regatta back in Auckland in 2024.

Even though taking the America's Cup away from New Zealand would be a blow for Auckland, Sir Jim told the Telegraph that INEOS would be willing to return to Auckland.

"I'd love to see it happen," he says.

"I think it would be quite magical to have it in the UK after all this time, particularly after COVID. It would be a big thing for the UK, I think. But ultimately it's up to the Kiwis.

"I honestly think it would be a great success."

INEOS skipper Sir Ben Ainslie has been another vocal backer of an Isle of Wight cup defence.

"All I can say is we would be delighted if New Zealand did want to bring the Cup to Britain," he writes. 

"It would be an incredible opportunity to build on the momentum coming out of this Cup, give the country something big to shout about coming out of COVID, give New Zealand the chance to raise commercial revenue and all the other teams the chance to regroup.

"Ultimately, though, New Zealand are a commercially driven team. They have to look at all options on the table."