Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

America's Cup: Team New Zealand skipper says recent incidents in Bermuda won't deter the team

Emirates Team New Zealand plan to push their race boat to its limits in the final phase of their build-up to the America's Cup. Photo: Hamish Hooper/ETNZ
Emirates Team New Zealand plan to push their race boat to its limits in the final phase of their build-up to the America's Cup. Photo: Hamish Hooper/ETNZ

A spate of incidents in Bermuda won't deter Team New Zealand from pushing their race boat to its limits when the team finally hits the Great Sound this weekend.

The Kiwi boat is expected to take to the water at the America's Cup venue for the first time on Sunday, as the team enters the final phase in their build-up for next month's event.

The next 35 days loom as a crucial period for Team New Zealand as they continue their relentless pursuit of performance gains. The closer they get to the regatta, the stakes are amplified.

The new generation America's Cup Class boats are proving faster, flashier and crashier than ever before. The past month of action from the Bermuda-based teams has seen a flurry of mishaps, near misses and even the capsize of Oracle Team USA.

The defenders were fortunate to escape with only minimal wing damage, but the accident served as a timely reminder of the

With just over a month to go before the opening race of the America's Cup Qualifying Series, any damage suffered at this point could have a huge impact on a team's campaign.

But skipper Glenn Ashby said not pushing the boat enough could also prove costly.

"The boats are very, very difficult to sail and you only need to make a small mistake and the boats can roll. [The latest incidents] are a timely reminder that you really have to be 100 per cent concentrating on the job at hand. You only need a small slip-up and it could be very, very detrimental to the campaign," he said.

"We definitely want to keep this thing on its wheels, that's for sure. But if you don't push, and you don't learn what you need to learn, you don't know where the edge is, you won't be fast enough.

"We need to work out where that is, but not slip-up too much."


Team NZ were the last of the challengers to arrive in Bermuda after opting to remain in Auckland for the testing and development phase of their campaign. The relaunch of their boat, following a marathon 10-day effort to reassemble the catamaran, will likely be closely watched by their rivals, most of which are yet to see Team NZ's radical pedal grinding set-up up close.

Ashby accepts from this point on there will be no more hiding.

"It's going to be a big couple of weeks. We haven't had a huge amount of time sailing the boat, so to actually get out here at the venue and experience the conditions is going to be a great learning opportunity for us as a sailing team," said Ashby.

"We have no idea how we're going to go once we line up against the other teams, but certainly from what we've seen of the other teams manoeuvrability-wise we should be in the mix. And that's all you can hope for at this stage in the game."

The biggest item on Team NZ's to-do list over the next couple of weeks will be testing new appendages which are due to arrive in Bermuda this week.

"We're looking at trialling some new rudders and we've got some new daggerboards turning up in a couple of weeks. I think a lot of the teams will be putting in new foils over the next couple of weeks and trialling new bits and pieces, and we're no different," said Ashby.

- NZ Herald

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