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AUCKLAND: July 06, 2017. Emirates Team New Zealand returned to a hero's welcome after winning the 35th America's Cup 7:1 against defending champion Oracle Team USA in Bermuda at the end of June.

Emirates Team New Zealand 2In April this year bookmakers had given the challenger 3:1 odds to win the sailing competition that began in 1851 and is thus the oldest international trophy in world sport.

Emirates Airline sponsorship of Team New Zealand dates back to 2004 and was renewed in March 2015. Emirates Sky Cargo was responsible for shipping the team's 45 tonnes of equipment, including the multi-hull racing yacht, to Bermuda from Auckland via Los Angeles and back.

The New Zealand team has held a number of America's Cup titles including clinching the trophy in 1995 and successfully defending the title in 2000.

"It's fantastic to be home, we just so proud of being New Zealanders," declared CEO Grant Dalton as hundreds of fans gathered at Auckland Airport for the team's triumphant return via Dubai on July 05.

Meanwhile plans have begun to defend Emirates Team New Zealand's win with the acceptance of a challenge from Circolo della Vela Sicilia, a yacht club in Mondello near Palermo, Sicily that becomes the Challenger of Record for the 36th America's Cup, likely to be held in 2021.

The club will be represented by Luna Rossa Challenge ('Red Moon Challenge'), an Italian sailboat racing syndicate first created to compete for the 2000 America's Cup. The Prada/Telecom Italia boat withdrew from the 35th Challenge after disagreeing with the organizers on the type of vessel to be entered in the race series.

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