Luna Rossa helmsman Jimmy Spithill has often mentioned the importance of race time for this America's Cup campaign - in terms of progress and development of their vessel, and how to sail it.
However, he believes that may not be the case for Team New Zealand.
As the defender of the Auld Mug, Team New Zealand do not get the luxury of competitive sailing during the Prada Cup. Their experience with competing against another syndicate is instead limited to just a handful of races contested in the America's Cup World Series and Christmas Cup.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, Spithill said even without the extra racing, Team New Zealand deserve to have the title of being the team to beat.
"As the defender, that's probably one of the toughest things," Spithill said. "OK, you're guaranteed a spot in the main event, but you're sitting there watching the challengers go head-to-head, you know they're learning; it's a tough one.
"But from what I saw in the Christmas racing, the Kiwis are the team to beat. There's no doubt in my mind. They've produced a very, very good package, and it's not a surprise. They've always been very innovative, very logical, and always pushed it. They're going to be a handful. Whoever goes through between us and Ineos [Team UK], it will be a very tough ask against the Kiwis."
Luna Rossa have had the most races of any team remaining in the hunt for the America's Cup, with 16, with Ineos Team UK having competed in 12 and Team New Zealand in just six. Luna Rossa and Ineos Team UK could add as many as 13 races during the best-of-seven Prada Cup final series.
Spithill said he was glad to have gone through the Prada Cup semifinal stage against American Magic rather than qualify straight through to the final as Team UK did, and said while Team New Zealand are the team to beat, for now, his crew could not let themselves think that far ahead.
"It's great for the team where we are. I'm happy we went through the semifinals; I'm happy we had to go through that repechage because it just meant we got more battle-hard training preparing us for this final," Spithill said.
"We can't think too much about the end result of the America's Cup. What we need to focus on now, 100 per cent of our time and energy, is getting through this final series and beating Ineos. We just can't think too much about the Kiwis now, because we've got to get past this next stage."
The Prada Cup final series begins on February 13.
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride.
• Don't forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America's Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.