Emirates Team New Zealand defend America's Cup with 7-3 victory over Luna Rossa

New Zealand retain the America's Cup after victory on home soil on Waitematā Harbour in Auckland, defeating Italy en route to triumph.

By Ashlee Tulloch and Nick McCarvel
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

The America's Cup remains in New Zealand after Emirates Team New Zealand defended the Auld Mug in Auckland, New Zealand with a resounding 7-3 win over Italian challenger Luna Rossa in the 36th match of sailing's oldest international trophy.

The Kiwis went into the seventh day of racing on Wednesday 17th March at match point.

Holding a 6-3 lead in the best-of-13 race series, the defenders needed just one more race victory to retain the famous Auld Mug.

Despite a delayed start due to shifting wind conditions, Team New Zealand went on to win the 10th race by 46 seconds.

“Absolutely unreal,” said Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling after his crew defended the Cup.

“To do something like this on home waters is something that I think our whole team is incredibly proud of."

“We’ve had messages from everyone from the Prime Minister (Jacinda Ardern) to high school kids... so just about anyone you can think of.

“It just means the world to us as a team." - Team NZ's Peter Burling speaking to commentators.

The New Zealander boat returned to shore with a huge crowds of fans in a country that currently has zero community cases of Covid-19.

A win with Tokyo implications

The Kiwi boat is stacked with Olympians.

Helmsman Burling and flight controller Blair Tuke are Rio 2016 49er gold medallists and London 2012 silver medallists and will look to defend their titles in Tokyo in less than 130 days.

"What a beauty, defending the Cup on home waters. Unreal." - Blair Tuke speaking on board to commentators after the victory.

Team NZ Trimmer Glenn Ashby won silver for Australia at Beijing 2008 in the Tornado Class.

Team NZ loaded with Olympic talent

Fellow Olympic sailor Josh Junior was also onboard the winning boat and will now battle with Andy Maloney for one remaining spot at Tokyo.

Maloney narrowly missed qualification for the laser class at the 2016 Games, and has since switched to the Finn class.

He's in direct competition with Junior because countries are entitled to have just one representative in the class at the Games.

2012 Olympic double sculls champion Joe Sullivan was heads down as one of the grinders alongside 2012 Keirin bronze medallist Simon Van Velthooven and four-time Olympian, swimmer and sprint canoeist Steven Ferguson.