Race day one at Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series proved to be a solid debut for new Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling sailing in an official America's Cup race.
It has been a long time coming for Tauranga's young world champion and his 49er crew Blair Tuke, who signed on more than 18 months ago.
"It's something we have been waiting for for a long time," Burling, 24, said. "It was pretty cool for us. We just love being out on the water and being able to measure ourselves against the best sailors in the world."
Finishing the day in a close second position overall behind Land Rover BAR, after a third place and a win, was satisfactory for Team NZ.
Both teams were battling it out at the front of the fleet for the majority of the day's racing in what Burling described as "an incredibly shifty and puffy breeze" off Portsmouth that was 7-12 knots - right in the difficult crossover between foiling or not foiling in the AC45Fs.
In the first race, Team NZ started well, rounding the first mark in third position.
Following the preconceived game plan they gybed early, separating from the fleet and into better breeze and a big lead by the bottom mark.
Land Rover BAR snuck by on the second downwind, and then Oracle Team USA overtook in a contentious move rounding the final mark.
"We sailed well enough for a second in the first race but annoyingly had to settle for third after the final mark rounding," Burling said.
In race two, Emirates Team New Zealand had a good start up the line above Land Rover BAR.
They again followed the pre-race game plan, but this time they continued all the way to the boundary from the first mark, hooking into an uncommon bit of pressure to again round the bottom mark in first place. They played the shifts well, keeping their red Omega bows in front all the way around the track to take second place overall.
When asked what was the key to the day, Burling responded, "keeping in breeze".
"Things are easy when you are in the breeze".
The final two races overnight (NZ time) were double points races, so with a forecast of 17-23+ knots, the first Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series event was still anyone's game.