New Zealand’s America’s Cup yachting team was reported Thursday to be considering a start in the next Volvo round-the-world race, but only if Auckland is reinstated as a stopover port.

Syndicate boss Grant Dalton’s plan to broaden Team New Zealand’s racing programme is unveiled in the December issue of Boating New Zealand magazine, the New Zealand Press Association said.

Dalton, who skippered New Zealand Endeavour to victory in the 1993-94 Whitbread, the Volvo’s predecessor, said a round-the-world campaign would enhance Team NZ’s chances of winning back the America’s Cup.

He said it would offer continuity of employment for the sailing and design team, as well as attracting more world class talent.

“We are still an America’s Cup team and we must stick to our knitting, but there’s no reason why this team couldn’t do a Volvo,” said Dalton.

“Auckland would be a prerequisite to be on the stopover list and it’s a lot of money. But certainly that sort of thing you could set up to enhance, not impact, our America’s Cup campaign.” Team NZ skipper Dean Barker also appeared excited by the prospect of a round-the-world campaign.

“It’s just a case of how it fits in with what we are doing at the time and what actually happens with the America’s Cup,” he said.

Dalton said Team NZ had to diversify its sailing programme to survive, given the gloomy global economic picture and the drawn-out legal battle between syndicates Alinghi and BMW Oracle, which sees the America’s Cup marooned in court.

He has already announced plans for Team NZ to race a TP52 – high performance monohull – in the highly competitive MedCup series during the next northern summer.