How different would the landscape be now in the America’s Cup world if Emirates Team New Zealand had won just one of those eight final races last summer? If the Auld Mug had gone back to the southern hemisphere, perhaps the Cup would have reverted back to a slower, more traditional path of keelboat development, although I doubt it. No matter how much the Kiwis and others teams complained about Oracle Team USA taking the Cup into the previously uncharted waters of foiling multihulls powered by hi-tech wing rigs, once you’ve mastered a new challenge you don’t want to rip it up and start again.

It was the Kiwi design team that discovered how to make an AC72 get up on hydrofoils. ETNZ had stolen a march on the opposition, and one that very nearly won them the Cup. The defender and the other challenges were caught on the back foot, and struggled hard to get on level terms with the innovative Kiwis. Surely the Kiwis would have wanted to carry that advantage through to the next Cup.

After that spectacular finale last summer it’s no surprise to see hydrofoiling on the agenda again. Russell Coutts has said that the Protocol might be published in March, the boss of Oracle Team USA indicating that the new version of the America’s Cup Class Rule will produce a foiling, wing-sailed catamaran in the 60-65 foot range.

The Kiwis are preparing accordingly. In February a number of the ETNZ sailing team competed in the A-Class World Championships at Takapuna Bay, just down the road from their team base. The team’s wing trimmer, Glenn Ashby, dominated the event which for the first time saw these advanced singlehanded catamarans using foiling technology. There were nosedives, pitchpoles and crashes aplenty as 94 sailors struggled to get to grips with this fledgling technology.

Runner-up was Blair Tuke who beat his 49er partner and helmsman, Pete Burling in 3rd place. Although neither of these young sailors has much multihull experience, the reigning 49er World Champions and Olympic silver medallists are quickly justifying their recent signing to ETNZ. Just behind them was ETNZ tactician Ray Davies in 5th, with Artemis Racing’s helmsman and reigning 49er Olympic Champion Nathan Outteridge in 6th.

While if they had won the Cup, the Kiwis probably would have kept a form of hydrofoiling multihull, one of the biggest changes would have been the return to a strict nationality rule. Oracle recently announced their design team, making much of the fact that there is a good number of Americans in the line-up. The same is not true of their sailing team, however, with Aussies Tom Slingsby and skipper James Spithill pledging their allegiance to Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts once again. Oracle remains a very cosmopolitan - and not very American - team.

With Outteridge staying at Artemis and Ashby remaining with the Kiwis, Team Australia has yet to sign a big name Aussie to its sailing roster. Word is that they don’t have the financial clout to match the high salaries of other established campaigns. If the Kiwis been in a position to enforce that nationality rule, it would have suited Australia very nicely too. But as it stands, Team Australia is struggling to recruit the top-draw candidates. Bad news for them, but perhaps good news for the event if the Oatleys and their CEO, Iain Murray, give Oracle a run for their money in the negotiations. If the event is to thrive, it’s crucial that they nail down a set of terms and cost-containing measures that mean you don’t have to be a multi-billionaire to have a serious chance at winning the 35th Cup.