Ineos Team UK skipper Sir Ben Ainslie has given a blunt assessment of the task ahead of the challenging America's Cup syndicates, with the Prada Cup Challenger Series fast approaching.
The three challengers – Ineos Team UK, American Magic and Luna Rossa – will compete for the chance to challenge for the Auld Mug against Team New Zealand later this year, with the Challenger Series getting underway on January 15.
However, speaking to the Shirley Robertson Sailing Podcast, Ainslie said that series was just one piece of the puzzle.
"I think you will see a lot of development across all three challengers through the Prada Cup," Ainslie said.
"And whoever gets through … we are really going to have to push hard for that challenge to be able to give the Kiwis a race because right now they are standing head and shoulders above the other three teams.
"We've really got to up our game to be competitive against them."
The British syndicate seemed to have the most work to do of any syndicate following the America's Cup World Series late last year and their vessel struggled throughout the regatta.
While American Magic and Luna Rossa showed some promising signs, with American Magic tipping up Team New Zealand on day one, Ineos Team UK struggled to so much as finish their races as they battled with technological difficulties and light conditions.
Ainslie said it was a benefit of having the World Series regatta as it allowed them to highlight their issues and target their preparations in the weeks between that regatta and the beginning of the Prada Cup.
He said the nature of the AC75 boats offered some hope in his team's quest to catch-up.
"We were fortunate to have that opportunity to highlight these issues though, frankly, we have been working on some for a long time," Ainslie told Robertson.
"It takes a relatively small change to get a boost in performance and that's what we are looking to do here."
Enjoy smooth sailing to the Cup with Auckland Transport
• Avoid traffic congestion and parking niggles and download the AT Mobile app to plot your bus, train or ferry ride to race venues before you leave home.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride to the Cup
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup