The rival chase boats were out in force as Team New Zealand hit the water for the first time in Bermuda today.
Just three weeks after the Kiwi boat last sailed in Auckland, the team took to the water on the Great Sound under the close watch of an armada of competitors chase boats. With Emirates Team New Zealand having delayed their arrival in Bermuda, instead opting to hide away in Auckland for most of the America's Cup cycle, this was the first time most of their rivals had gotten a first hand glimpse of the NZ-flagged boat.
The team's first sail was more about recommissioning the boats and ensuring all the systems were working properly before getting back into the mindset of pushing the development hard day after day.
The maiden sail in Bermuda came with an air of relief for skipper Glenn Ashby who has been like "a cat on a hot tin roof" waiting to get back out on the boat named New Zealand Aotearoa.
"When you look at the calendar it actually hasn't been too long since we last sailed in Auckland, but everything that has happened between times, packing up, flying the boat here and rebuilding it has made it seem a lot longer, the team has done a huge push to get us on the water as soon as possible," said Ashby.
"But it was really fantastic to get back out there and get a taste of the race course first hand for the first time. It is pretty apparent already that this is going to be a really great regatta up here."
Team New Zealand relaunched their race boat with their replacement daggerboards while the finishing repairs continue to be made to their race boards which were damaged in Auckland.
"We would have preferred to have our race boards back in the boat, but we need to be sure the repairs are 100% right so we don't want to rush the repair. Hopefully we will have them come back online very shortly." said Ashby.
With just 34 days to go until the first race of the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers the urgency for continued development looms large and the team will be making the most of each day, the varying conditions as well as new equipment coming on line.
"As a team it is important we remain totally focused and flexible to learning as much as we can from ourselves but also our competitors."
"From what we have seen in the past few days, the other teams all look to have strengths as well as some weaknesses. We will be no different so the race effectively has started as to who can make the most of these next five weeks to maximize all the speed they can in preparation for racing on the 26th May."
Another official race training period begins on Tuesday, with all of the other teams likely to participate. Ashby said it is still unclear whether their boat will be ready for racing next week.
"We will see how we go. We need to take our time to make sure we are happy with where we are at before starting any racing. But it will be good to get into some action with another boat as amazingly it is something we have not done at all yet."
Team NZ chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge yesterday told Newstalk ZB if the team are not ready for practice racing next week, they would "definitely" compete in the next official racing window from May 15.