You can tell a lot about the importance of the recent America’s Cup World Series event in Naples by who was there and who wasn’t.

But from the entry list of nine teams in AC45 catamarans, we can deduce that for the Defender and Challenger of Record - respectively Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing - the outcome in Naples was not top of their priority list for April. This did not escape the notice of Grant Dalton, the head of Emirates Team New Zealand, who some weeks before Naples had this to say: “We will be there with a full-strength crew. Is it just us or does anyone else think it is hypocrisy that neither Artemis nor Oracle is sending their A team to Naples? These are the teams that said Emirates Team New Zealand wouldn't support the ‘future’.”

Where Oracle and Artemis were each fielding two teams in last year’s regattas, in Naples there was just one apiece. For the first time at the helm of the Oracle boat was Tom Slingsby. As multiple Laser World Champion and last year’s Olympic Champion in the singlehanded hiking boat there is no question that the 28-year-old Australian is one of the most accomplished sailors of his generation. But he’s not their ‘A list’ helmsman. That continues to be James Spithill, who was not in Naples.

With all that being said, Slingsby did an amazing job of filling Spithill’s shoes, winning the match racing in Naples and just missing out on a tie-break to finish 2nd to Luna Rossa Swordfish in the fleet racing. The Kiwis put out a full-strength crew to finish in 3rd place where really this should have been an event they should have won, if for no other reason than to back up Dalton’s complaint about the absence of the big names from Oracle and Artemis.

Spithill and the bulk of the Oracle crew remain hard at work training on their AC72, as does nearly all of Artemis Racing. To pick up on Grant Dalton’s, for the ACWS to survive, and thrive, it needs to be seen as a grade one series in its own right, with the very best sailors seen to be on the start line - not too busy testing for another more important event. It would be like Red Bull pulling Sebastian Vettel out of a Formula One Grand Prix event so he could fly to the US to compete in the Indy 500 for a weekend.

If the rest of us are expected to take the ACWS seriously, so too should Oracle and Artemis. The fact that the big names remained testing in San Francisco highlights the dilemma that faces all America’s Cup holders. Oracle, and Russell Coutts specifically, have great ambitions to revolutionise the Cup. But when push comes to shove, the only thing that really matters to any Defender is winning the next Cup. And that’s why the A Team weren’t in Naples.