Burling back at the helm for Team NZ

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TOP CLASS: Peter Burling and Blair Tuke back on board Team New Zealand after their Rio triumph. PHOTO: Emirates Team New Zealand
TOP CLASS: Peter Burling and Blair Tuke back on board Team New Zealand after their Rio triumph. PHOTO: Emirates Team New Zealand

Emirates Team New Zealand got off to a solid start to the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series in Toulon on Saturday night as racing got under way in a very light and puffy Mediterranean breeze.

Starting well in the light wind was always vitally important and Emirates Team New Zealand, with Tauranga's Rio gold medalist Peter Burling back on the helm, was on the money at the start gun getting two strong starts at the windward end of the line in the first two races of the day eventually ending in two second places.

But it wasn't all about the starts on a course that was always open to big gains and big loses through being in the right position of the course and picking the ever-changing wind shifts.

Tactician Ray Davies spent the day perched on the bow of the Emirates Team New Zealand AC45 continually scanning the course ahead for the next indication of best breeze.

"It was certainly a day to keep your head out of the boat, the conditions were extremely testing out there," Davies said.

"Other than the third race we sailed pretty well."

In that race, the last official race of the day, after rounding the bottom mark Emirates Team New Zealand found themselves on the wrong side of a very big wind shift that left them fighting an uphill battle once all of the pressure made a hasty shift to the right hand side of the course.

"It was wobbly third race but we are third overall at the end of the day, just one point from second and five points off the lead," Davies said.

"So we are pretty happy because it was a really tricky day and to be in touch with the lead with double points on offer tomorrow we are certainly in the mix to finish the regatta strongly which was our goal at the beginning of the day.

"Overall we made gains on both Oracle and Land Rover BAR, so that certainly is a step in the right direction with our overall objective in mind."

With similar conditions forecast overnight and three double points races scheduled, there were still plenty of points on offer and the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Toulon regatta remains wide open.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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