Luna Rossa helmsman Jimmy Spithill has conceded there is a gap to bridge between the challenging fleet and Team New Zealand between now and the America's Cup, but the challengers get one advantage Team New Zealand doesn't.
Next month, the challengers will compete in the Prada Cup Challenger Series, which will determine who of Luna Rossa, American Magic or Ineos Team UK moves on to compete for the Auld Mug.
So, while all four teams have two more days of sailing remaining in the America's Cup World Series and Christmas Cup, that will be the end of the line for Team New Zealand in terms of competitive build-up for the main event.
"The important thing is the Cup isn't raced tomorrow," Spithill said of Team New Zealand's current advantages.
"As challengers, we've got time. The thing we have is that we get to race collectively together, and the defender doesn't. What we've already seen or noticed is that any time we can actually line up with another boat, especially race another boat, that's where you take some big gains.
"From a technical and design point of view, every team is going to be doing everything they can to get faster so we have a lot of work to do. Do I think we can bridge the gap? I do."
Spithill's Luna Rossa showed plenty of improvement between the first and second days of racing, trading a win and a loss with American Magic in two very competitive races.
As expected with the World Series and Christmas Cup events being the first chance for some competitive racing, Spithill admitted that while the team wanted to win, the most important part of this week was to learn.
He said trading results with American Magic, who beat Ineos Team UK and Team New Zealand on day one, showed the lessons they took from the first day and applied were helping their cause.
"I thought the first day we made a lot of mistakes. I mean, my hand's up for sure on the first day, and I think today was a good bounce back," Spithill said.
"But we've got a heap more to go. There's a lot left in the tank, the boat's got a lot more speed, we've got a lot of modifications planned, so I'm quite positive and excited to see what we can get out of the boat."
While they had plenty to be positive about after the second day, issues with the technology on board overshadowed some otherwise good sailing, as Luna Rossa could not get their start right – receiving three penalties across two race starts.
Spithill said the issue stemmed from the RMS system, which was displaying the wrong information as to where the markers were placed. In one race, they were into the starting box three seconds earlier than they should have been.
With the AC75s so reliant on the technological element, particularly the navigation systems given the aerodynamic needs of the boat mean the sailors keep their heads low, Sptihill said Friday's racing taught Luna Rossa that they needed to form some sort of contingency plans for when those systems aren't working or to confirm what they're being show on the monitors.
"It's something we've definitely been discussing," Spithill said. "Like, if the RMS system goes down as has happened, what do we do? We definitely need to do a better job of making a plan for that, and we will.
"The boats, as they become more and more complex, and more and more sophisticated, you really do become reliant on a lot of the information you have and accurate information, so it is a challenge because you do just get so used to having numbers and rolling off it that at times you do have to remind yourself that it is a yacht race and you do have to get your head out of the boat and make some decisions too."
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