One of Team New Zealand’s oldest rivals has sent a ripple through the America’s Cup, with some thinking his congratulatory message was a hint at a return to the event.
Following Team NZ’s 7-3 win over Luna Rossa in the final to retain the Auld Mug, Swiss billionaire and two-time America’s Cup winner Ernesto Bertarelli offered his congratulations to the Kiwi syndicate.
"Congratulations to Team New Zealand for the sporting and technological success it has achieved," Bertarelli said in a statement to Italian media.
"To Luna Rossa, our compliments for the competitive spirit shown and for all the fantastic emotions that the Italian team offered in the final.
"The AC75s have shown their full potential. We look forward to hearing about the plans for the future of the America's Cup, and we really hope it will be a growing event that brings together teams from all over the world."
The final part of that statement has sailing commentators turning their heads, given Bertarelli told 1 NEWS last month he wanted to return to the prestigious regatta, even as a lead challenger, if Italy's Luna Rossa had won the cup.
Bertarelli and Alinghi are infamous with Kiwi fans for their movements after Team NZ’s defence in 2000 which saw a number of the Kiwi syndicate’s top talents – including then-skipper Russell Coutts and tactician Brad Butterworth – join the Swiss team for their 2003 campaign.
Alinghi returned to New Zealand three years later and swept Team NZ 5-0 to take the Auld Mug.
While there’s no talk of Kiwi sailors being approached so far, 1 NEWS understands Bertarelli has attempted to purchase Team NZ’s first generation AC75 Te Aihe to start learning how to sail a foiling monohull, although he was turned down.
While Alinghi wouldn’t be able to use Te Aihe in the 37th America’s Cup if they were involved, the purchase would be a decent investment with sailing experts, including Team NZ’s own designer Dan Bernasconi, believing the AC75 class could still be used in the next regatta.