Former America's Cup skipper Chris Dickson has praised Team New Zealand's decision to return to monohull yachts, saying the cheaper designs will bring more syndicates back to the prestigious regatta.
Dickson, who skippered New Zealand's first America's Cup campaign in 1987, says the expensive catamaran designs implemented by former Cup holders Oracle Team USA at the past two America's Cups drove crews away which damaged the event.
"Five teams doesn't make an event," Dickson told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning in relation to the recent Bermuda regatta.
"You've got to have the numbers - a minimum of eight teams. If monohulls means it's going to attract more teams, then it's a great move."
Dickson said it was more about the costs than the debate over how much sailing is involved that makes monohulls a more viable option.
"It'll be cheaper and the technology hurdle - we look at those foiling cats from Bermuda, they were incredibly impressive but can any of us imagine what it would take to start from scratch and be competitive in a boat like that, especially against Team NZ?
"That would just put teams off, so I think a new class, it gives new teams the hope and expectation they can come to New Zealand, they can compete and be competitive and that in itself attracts sponsors and backers and hopefully that'll get more teams.
"You've got to have more teams to have a great event... if you have a party and three people turn up, it defeats the purpose."
Team NZ confirmed the decision in a statement last night.
"Emirates Team New Zealand have been consulting with a number of potential challengers and there is an overall desire to have a spectacular monohull yacht that will be exciting to match race, but also one that the public and sailors can relate to as a sail boat that really challenges a full crew of professional yachtsman around the race track," the statement read.
"Currently there are a team of designers, lead by Emirates Team New Zealand Design Coordinator Dan Bernasconi working on various exciting monohull concepts which will eventually help shape the AC36 Class Rule."
Further details of the 2021 America's Cup defence in Auckland will be revealed later this month.