Team New Zealand have officially concluded their sailing programme in Auckland, with the packdown of the boat getting under way today.
After 21 days of sailing in the Hauraki Gulf, Emirates Team New Zealand has lowered their bold red wing sail at their Beaumont St base for the final time today, as the disassembly process begins.
Over the next few days, the shore crew will package up the 50ft catamaran for its Emirates flight to Bermuda in just over a week.
Once the boat is put back together on the ground in Bermuda, Team New Zealand will have a month of finetuning, before the regatta gets underway with the America's Cup Qualifiers, in which both the challengers and defender will participate.
New Zealand, Aotearoa - the team race boat - was christened six weeks ago, and since then, Team New Zealand have been feverishly training on the water to improve the crew work and the boat speed.
A fast boat requires a close collaboration between sailors, designers and shore team as each modification is the result of tests on the water, simulations and constant research of performing solutions, and in the past month-and-a-half, the team worked tirelessly, both on the water and in the shed, to fine-tune the control systems, which will be the key variable in the next America's Cup.
The sailing conditions in Auckland have been ideal for testing and putting the race boat throughout the range of conditions it will race in once in Bermuda.
"The conditions have almost been more 'Bermuda-like' than in Bermuda," said skipper Glenn Ashby
"We have probably been the team that has had the chance to sail more days on their America's Cup Class catamaran than anyone to date, as the weather at this time of year in Auckland is perfect for sailing."
"But we have needed every moment we could manage out there, because while we are in transit, the other teams will be making some big gains."
Helmsman Peter Burling said, while their time on the water has been limited, the team has achieved a great deal in a short space of time.
"The feedback that the sailors give during a training session regarding their feeling onboard is crucial. If this is true for all boats, it is even more important in full foiling catamarans, where each parameter is taken to the extreme.
"We are very satisfied with the job we've done so far, but the time has come to put a line in the sand in New Zealand and so now, the final lap begins!"
The conclusion of the testing period is yet another major milestone for the team, who have been playing a desperate catch-up game with their better-resourced rivals that have been actively testing and developing for far longer.
"This was a late campaign for Emirates Team New Zealand and if we look back at one year ago, I still find it hard to believe how far we have come." said chief executive Grant Dalton.
"We have been watched very closely by the Oracle SoftBank spies every minute we have been on the water and their vigilance makes me think we built a very good racing machine. We could keep improving and developing the boat indefinitely, but we have got to go racing at some stage and now is that time."
"It is hard to express the huge effort everyone on the team has put in towards the endless quest for speed and performance gains," concluded Dalton.
Although it seems like a good time for a short break, the reality is there will be no slowing down until the last race of the campaign. The team is already pulling the boat apart, and packing the remainder of the required spares, equipment and infrastructure to load onto the Emirates cargo plane due to leave early next month.