By SUZANNE McFADDEN



Matthew Jones and Daniel Willcox-Silfverberg have been best friends since birth and are desk buddies at school.



Even an America's Cup cannot dent their friendship.



Matthew is the son of Team New Zealand's man-up-the-mast, Murray Jones. Daniel's dad is Prada's weatherman, Hamish Willcox.

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But the rivalry between challenger and defender does not spill over to their children.



The 9-year-old mates, both blond and tall, walk together each day to Campbells Bay School on the North Shore, and sit next to each other in class.



Only their clothes tell of their family affiliations - they are dressed in the kits of the warring camps.



Daniel has his name printed on the back of his Prada shirt - just like the sailing crew - and Matthew has the entire Team New Zealand outfit, right down to his red socks.



Matthew was the toast of the class yesterday after his dad's first-race victory on Sunday.



But the two friends were matter-of-fact about it all.



Said Daniel: "Team New Zealand sailed a good race and they got the right windshifts."



Today, the boys agreed, could be Prada's turn.



"I don't really mind who wins," whispered Daniel.



In fact, on day one of the regatta, while their fathers were on the battlefield of the Hauraki Gulf, the boys played together on land, building dams and dissecting insects.



Their fathers sailed in dinghies against each other as children, then Willcox coached Jones' wife, Jan Shearer, to an Olympic silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona games.



The boys, who play in the same soccer team, have yet to start sailing competitively - and when they do go to sea, it will probably be together.



Meanwhile, the MetService is predicting winds of about 10 knots on the gulf today for race two of the Cup.