Nerves appear to be brewing overseas as Team New Zealand impressed in the America's Cup practice races on Thursday.
Peter Burling had the edge on Jimmy Spithill and Luna Rossa in the three trials in windy conditions yesterday, as the Kiwi boat displayed good straight-line speed and were confident in their manoeuvres.
The early signs of Team NZ's promising form were noted in the Italian media reaction of the second day of boat-on-boat action.
Erik Nicolaysen from Italian website OA Sport analysed that Team NZ showed "smooth manoeuvres and an excellent combination of control and speed even in more intense wind conditions".
"It is still very early to draw conclusions, but the defender seems to be able to count on a very competitive and difficult boat to beat in the America's Cup."
He noted the different configurations between the two AC75s, saying Luna Rossa completed yesterday's test with a smaller bow.
"Once again it is Te Rehutai who impresses in the tests against Luna Rossa," reported another Italian sailing website Farevela.
"The Kiwis showed control and speed even in these stronger wind conditions than the average ones on the first day of practice race … always fluid."
Farevela also noted Team NZ's more aggressive approach to their boat development.
"One of the biggest differences can be seen in the much more recessed position of the Kiwi crew, whose helmets just come off the deck, compared to that of the men on Luna Rossa. All to improve the aerodynamics of the topside."
However, Sail-World NZ's Richard Gladwell warns not to read too much into the practice racing in a report titled "When will the kid gloves come off?"
Gladwell even suggested the Challenger of Record may have decided to "bear off a little and make the Kiwis look good".
"We've never read much into Invitation Races - held to give competitors and officials a test run-through before the start of the Main Event," he wrote.
"The past two days of Practice Racing in the America's Cup World Series preliminary, looks just like typical Invitation Racing.
"ETNZ rounds the top mark ahead and is around 30 seconds ahead at the bottom. Are those margins real - or had the Italians buttoned off soon after the start of the first beat? Or is Te Rehutai the "super-boat"?"
Meanwhile, two of the other challengers INEOS Team UK and American Magic failed to front in the second practice races, with the British team missing the opening practice session on Tuesday after suffering damage while the Americans dealt with unspecified issues following a promising run in the first session.
A report from the UK said it was "nervous times" for the Brits.
"Nervous times for British fans as the two missed practice days seem to point to unsolved problems for the Ineos team," wrote Gerald New on the British website Sailweb.
"This was the second missed day for the Brits, who pulled out with a broken main halyard early on the first day, but as that would have been a simple fix, the reason for their no show on Thursday is not known."
New added that Team NZ "continue to look the best prepared team at this stage".
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