The man who led Team New Zealand to glory in Bermuda is yet to recommit to the team for their America's Cup defence in 2021.
Australian multihull specialist Glenn Ashby, who was the skipper and wing trimmer on board the Kiwi boat for their brilliant 7-1 win over Oracle Team USA, remains undecided on whether he will return for a third campaign.
Ashby was present in Team NZ colours for today's protocol announcement for the next America's Cup, but his future with the team is uncertain. Asked if he would be back on board Team NZ for their Cup defence, Ashby said he had yet to sit down with the syndicate heads and discuss his position with the team.
"I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for myself at this stage of the game," Ashby said.
"I've had a couple of months camping in the bush and haven't given a whole lot of thought to what we do down the track. Nothing is locked in for a lot of people yet at the moment, so getting this protocol out today is a stake in the ground for teams to regroup and get back together or new teams to come on board. So I expect over the next few weeks or months there will be a lot of movement with teams."
Team NZ boss Grant Dalton said now the details for the next event have been established, he hoped to sit down with Ashby and over the next few days to discuss his future with the team. Dalton said there were currently 30 people on Team NZ's payroll, but declined to say whether Ashby was one of them.
"Glenn had a really important role in Bermuda. Glenn has literally just come back on air on Thursday - he has been camping in the Outback dodging scorpions and snakes - so now we'll start talking to him," he said.
The problem for Dalton is Ashby may have outgrown his role at Team NZ.
Having played a key role in the development of some of the radical innovations on the New Zealand boat, Ashby is regarded as one of the quiet geniuses behind Team NZ's daring Cup raid and is expected to be targeted by rival syndicates for a leadership position. He has already been touted as an option to head up a potential new Australian challenge.
Dalton said he was ever-wary of the threat of opposition teams circling to pick off their key talent.
"I'm sure people have been contacted, that's only natural, but certainly I'm not aware that we've lost anybody at this point," he said.
"I think the culture of the place and the way everyone felt in Bermuda is it's a place people want to work."
Despite his background being predominantly in multihulls, Ashby believes he will be able to easily adapt his skills to the "new" monohull environment after Team NZ confirmed today the next event would be sailed in 75-ft high performance yachts.
"My focus will be on design and development of the yachts. That's sort of an area I've been interested in over the last few years and something I've worked really hard on," he said.