Team New Zealand are taking their win in the opening round of the America's Cup world series in Portugal with a healthy dose of perspective.
The Kiwi crew have taken the leap from monohull sailing to the brave new world of multihulls in their stride as they dominated the first stop on the world series - the forerunner to the 2013 America's Cup, which will be raced in giant wing-sailed catamarans.
The win was testament to the hard work the crew have put in adapting to multihull sailing over the past 12 months as Cup-holders Oracle went about revolutionising the event.
Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker was delighted with his team's showing in Cascais, but said his team must continue to improve.
"We have to keep putting it in perspective," said Barker. "These events count for nothing but they are an important part of our build-up.
"We just have to keep developing our crew, our team that we use at different events. We come away here with a huge list of things to improve on."
America's Cup organisers also came away from the event with plenty of work-ons ahead of the second stage of the series next month. Last week's regatta was the first time many of the new innovations had been trialled in a competitive setting, and there were several teething problems for the event management including the automated umpiring system. But Oracle chief executive Russell Coutts, who skippered one of Oracle's two entries in the regatta, believes they are still on to a winning format.
"I think there's a long way to develop from here, but I already believe this product is way better than what it was before," said Coutts.
In one of the more bizarre innovations of the new world series format, the final fleet race of the event is winner-takes-all. So regardless of their performance earlier in the regatta, any of the nine teams could be declared overall champion by winning the fleet race on the final day.
Barker's crew made a confident start to the eight-day regatta, taking out the preliminary stage of the competition, winning the early fleet races as well as the speed challenge. They then dominated the match-racing phase, topping the leaderboard after the match race qualifiers. But the New Zealanders stumbled in the final, losing to James Spithill's Oracle 4.
In yesterday morning's fleet race, the team appeared to have returned to form. Spithill made a break at the start of the second leg and quickly got what looked to be a comfortable lead.
But on the sort of day when passing lanes could open suddenly for a team to make a big gain; or for a hole in the breeze to form equally suddenly with consequent losses, Spithill was unable to protect his lead with Barker pulling off a classic come-from-behind victory.By Dana Johannsen Email Dana