TODAY |

Ports of Auckland will clear shipping lanes to allow inner harbour America's Cup races

Ports of Auckland Ltd has today removed the major roadblock to the two America's Cup courses closest to Auckland being used for the regatta.

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The main barrier to races taking place on the two courses closest to Auckland city has been removed. Source: 1 NEWS

The port company said today they have found a way of re-accommodating shipping during all race dates, meaning the disputed B and C courses would be completely free for racing.

The two courses offer the best opportunity for public viewing, but until now it was likely that some restrictions would apply on some days due to shipping operations.

That prompted a challenge to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel by Challenger of Record Luna Rossa, which argued that either the courses should be available at all times, or not at all.

The panel agreed with the argument, and scratched the two courses, prompting disappointment from Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Emirates Team New Zealand.

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The event is dumping two stages off Auckland at the request of Luna Rossa. Source: 1 NEWS

Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson said the company had re-examined the impact of racing on the port's operations.

"The situation has changed considerably since January - because cruise ships are no longer able to visit Auckland, we now believe we can successfully manage freight operations even with closures to the shipping channel for racing," Gibson said.

"We will work with shipping lines to ensure there is minimal impact on their operations and to keep Auckland's freight flowing."

The changes made by Ports of Auckland will mean a further 10 official race days and six reserve days will become available on the two courses during the Prada Cup Round-Robin and Semi-Final.

The move was welcomed by Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton.

"Tony and his team have stepped up to help ETNZ and America’s Cup Event Ltd (ACE) deliver on the promise we made years ago, to make this America's Cup the most accessible and inclusive event ever."

Last week, Team New Zealand requested mediation with the Challenger of Record through the panel, but it was rejected because at least one of the challengers did not agree to mediation.

The decision on which racecourse is used for each race is made by the regatta director.

The main barrier to racing on courses B and C has now been removed, but the decision to reinstate the courses has not yet been confirmed by the arbitration panel.

The challengers have also not yet reacted to the development.