NZME's new America's Cup analyst Mark Orams runs the rule over the Bermuda contest, a potential powder keg of big personalities, dirty tricks, and thrilling high-speed racing.
What do you hope to see from Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton in Bermuda, considering his controversial hands-on approach at the last America's Cup.
I will be delighted if we don't see Grant Dalton until he is receiving the cup. Dalts needs to lead from behind...I know that those conversations have already happened.
He's been kept on a pretty tight leash by the board and had all the coaching, and I think he understands it himself now, intellectually. But it is very difficult for a person like Dalts with his dominant personality to resist the temptation.
Like everyone he has his strengths and weaknesses. But as soon as you see him fronting press conferences, leading from the front, I think we have a problem. Distraction is a massive issue in any sporting event. And the hook will be baited.
They will know that a guy like Grant Dalton will not be able to help himself. (Oracle boss) Russell Coutts will plant that seed, (skipper) Jimmy Spithill will press that button. TNZ have to completely ignore that sort of s--t.
Dalton's the CEO, not the skipper. The skipper is Glenn Ashby, we've got a multiple Olympic medallist helmsman, one of the most talented sailors in the world. They know how to win yacht races.
Where did you see Russell Coutts in the last America's Cup? Not one press conference. Not one comment in the media. He was the rock, making the critical calls, keeping Spithill and the sailors in the game. He is incredibly astute, the most determined, competitive bastard you will ever meet. He knows the importance of staying focused. We would be stupid not to look at how he does things.
How does Team New Zealand rate against the rest?
We have the most talented sailing team in Bermuda. If we had even boats and luck, I would back our guys to win. But that's not how yachting works. There's a whole bunch of other factors.
What about the Peter Burling-Blair Tuke factor - what is their secret sauce?
I've been watching (helmsman) Burling since he was 13 or 14 - he's got that x-factor. You go 'oh my gosh - how did he do that and make it look so easy?' They are yin and yang. Peter is more of an introvert, (pilot) Blair is very out going, charismatic. Blair has built Peter's confidence, in himself and his sailing.
Peter works incredibly hard...I heard some stories from the moth world championships which highlight his fastidiousness. The quality of the foils is absolutely critical but it's easy to get a bit lazy about that, overlook it. The designer of his boat told me he could not believe how absolutely immaculate Pete's foils were every day. After a full day of competing you are tempted to collapse into bed. Pete was re-sanding, filling, sanding again, so they were absolutely perfect. That's the approach Peter and Blair have - no compromise.
Will they handle the pressure?
Blair has a great sense of humour, and that is really helpful in the intensity of a contest like this. These guys, in their mid-20s, were the first double flag bearers for New Zealand at the Olympics, undefeated for four years, with all the medal expectations.
For them to dominate the way they did was amazing. That's a good sign - they are not fazed by expectation. You could almost see the weight of the world on Dean Barker last time. Stuff will go wrong. It can tip you into a downward spiral if you are not careful.
The form guide says...
Team New Zealand and Artemis are best in boat handling for now. We are nailing foiling gybes almost 100 per cent, and foiling tacks 95 per cent, and that's massive. When a boat is going 40 knots, if you fall off the foils it can take you another 10 or 20 seconds to get going again, which is 400 metres.
But of course boat handling improves over time. Oracle are mid-pack but they are concentrating on speed and believe they've got time to figure out the manoeuvring.
So never count your chickens. New Zealand could look fantastic for the first two round robins, but it ain't over. TNZ took a bullet proof boat to handle the tough San Francisco conditions. Oracle went nah, we want the fastest thing possible and will figure out how to sail it.
The foiling revolution has turned America's Cup into a new sport...
They are incredible machines. I'm really enthusiastic about a sport I've loved all my life and where it can go.
We have crafts flying above the water on something that is two metres long, half a metre wide. People have been experimenting with foiling since the 1950s but the level now is remarkable.
No longer is this a pedestrian, plodding, unfolding, slow motion, tactical chess game. This is balls to the wall...what's going to happen next? It's awesome, and TV might not even do it justice.
What is it like to be on these flying machines?
Very different. Traditionally the faster you go, the more violent the motion, the more salt spray in your face, the louder the noise. In foiling boats, it's smooth. You get this whistling in your ears, and you have to hold yourself with the G-forces as you turn. It's so quiet but man you are going so quick.
The sensations and feelings are counter to your instincts and you don't realise how fast it is until you pass something stationary. They even use aeronautical terms - banking into turns, stall rates, angle of attacks. The New Zealand boat doesn't have a rope on it. It's all hydraulics, done with press buttons, a whole new world.
Many are supposedly turned off the America's Cup by the big business aspect and a history of rule twisting
I know it takes a lot of bagging, but the people on that boat are ordinary Kiwis. Yes, Oracle have screwed the scrum in their favour, but that's the right of the defender. We've got to let that go.
Pure speculation at the moment. It will depend on how quickly Oracle improve.