Team New Zealand have scored a coup as they look to mount another America's Cup campaign, by retaining the services of outstanding Australian sailor Glenn Ashby.
The Australian was a key component in the recent challenge that took cup holders to the wire in San Francisco.
shby, a 14-time world multihull champion, was instrumental in getting skipper Dean Barker and the predominantly New Zealand crew up to speed in sailing catamarans after the cup made the radical move away from monohulls.
The affable Aussie was wing-trimmer on the New Zealand boat, effectively gearing up the power on Aotearoa.
He switched to Team New Zealand after being part of Oracle's original cup-winning syndicate in 2010 where he coached Jimmy Spithill on multihull techniques as they used a massive trimaran to lift the cup from Swiss holders Alinghi.
With Australia confirming a long-awaited cup challenge via the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, which is the challenger of record for the next cup, it seemed Ashby might be tempted to finally sail for the cup under an Aussie flag.
Ashby, 36, confirmed in Melbourne that he had been approached by the Hamilton Island club but that he had already signed on again with Team New Zealand.
The retention of Ashby is an indicator of the crucial early strike by Team New Zealand to hold on to their top talent in the wake of their heart-breaking 9-8 loss to Oracle in September.
They have used a $5 million grant from the Government to secure the services of key designers and sailors while Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton tries to secure the private sponsorship needed to mount another challenge.
The rules, venue and date for the next America's Cup are expected to be announced next month but catamarans are certain to be used again, adding to the value of retaining Ashby.
- © Fairfax NZ News