Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

America's Cup: Team New Zealand still waiting on new daggerboards

Team New Zealand are still waiting on a key piece of equipment, on which their America's Cup hopes may hinge, to arrive in Bermuda.

Just three weeks out from the opening race of the America's Cup qualifiers, the Kiwi team are sweating on the arrival of their final set of race daggerboards.

With many components of the America's Cup Class race boats being one-design, the daggerboards - or foils - that lift the boats out of the water are a critical design differentiator between the teams. As the daggerboards have a major impact on the performance of the boats and a significant chunk of the design and engineering effort for this America's Cup has gone into this area.

Since hitting the water in Bermuda for the first time two weeks ago, Emirates Team New Zealand has been testing several new pieces of hardware on their boat, but they are yet to unveil the final key piece of the puzzle - their second set of daggerboards.

Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling said they are eager to test out the new foils.

"We've still got plenty of new stuff coming, we're slowly getting bits and pieces arriving from NZ and I think once we get those daggerboards it will put us in a lot better position than we are right now and that's something that really excites us," said Burling.

"We've had a lot of new gear online over this period and I think how quickly we've been able to adapt is really a credit to the base we laid in NZ, getting a lot of our systems going so when we came up [to Bermuda] we could develop really quickly."

Burling said Team NZ aren't alone in leaving the launch of key design elements to the last minute. Several other teams are also making tweaks to their boats with the development race set to go right down to the wire before racing begins on May 27.

"Everyone is in a similar point to us. I think Softbank [Team Japan] and Artemis have launched all their race boards now, but a few of the other teams like Oracle haven't launched their final set," said Burling.

"It's one of those things, you have to wait and see, it's hard to tell if they're showing all their cards right now. We just have to keep trying to become as quick as we can because we know [our rivals] will be trying to do the exact same thing."

But the late arrival of the new daggerboards may cost Team NZ valuable time on the water over the final official practice racing sessions. The Kiwi team have been involved in just one day of practice racing so far and were looking to further build on their learnings in the next racing window from May 16-20, but Burling said their involvement may be restricted.

"We'll just see how much racing we want to do relative to other things going on at that time.

"At some stage the boat does need to spend a bit of time in the shed to make sure it's all ready to go for proper racing, so it will be a bit of a balancing act between time in the shed and time on the water over the next little bit."

Team New Zealand took full advantage of dream sailing conditions in Bermuda today, putting in a long training session out on the Great Sound in winds of around 12 knots.

- NZ Herald

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