Team New Zealand continued their promising form in the America's Cup practice races on Thursday, while two of the challengers failed to front.
Peter Burling had the edge on Jimmy Spithill and Luna Rossa in the first skirmish and held a lead of more than 30 seconds after two legs when the trial ended.
Team New Zealand trailed in the second "race" of the day before finding some extra speed to chase down the Italians, again holding the initiative when the session finished. The third sortie was more clear cut, with the European team pulling the pin early on the first beat, after being completely outfoxed at the start, as the local boat sailed off into the distance.
Not too much can be read into things at this stage, but the Kiwi boat displayed good straight-line speed and the team looked confident in their manoeuvres, which will please the Team New Zealand hierarchy.
Things won't be so positive over at INEOS Team UK, after the British yacht again failed to front. Sir Ben Ainslie's team didn't take part on Tuesday after an issue with their mast, which saw them towed back to base, and work was ongoing yesterday on Britannia.
American Magic was also a non-starter on Thursday. They had impressed on Tuesday, with helmsman Dean Barker displaying some adept handling and confidence in tight situations, but some unspecified issues with Patriot meant they couldn't take part today. Both syndicates will be racing the clock to be part of tomorrow's official practice session and look unlikely starters.
Team New Zealand made a solid start on Thursday. The practice was delayed for more than an hour by blustery winds but once it got underway Burling gained the edge over the Italians off the start, after some jousting with Luna Rossa.
Te Rehutai maintained its advantage on the first upwind beat and held a 37-second advantage at the second mark, when the first practice race ceased.
The action again took place on Racecourse E, which is the most isolated of the five options, in the east of Auckland off Bucklands Beach.
It is subject to a definite wind bias and affected by the tides more than other courses, so it's difficult to glean too much insight.
Still, it was a heartening performance from Team New Zealand, considering their lack of time on the water in their second boat. The crew have had just over a fortnight of training on Te Rehutai, which was only launched a month ago.
They appear to be ahead of the curve already, in only the second day we have seen the AC75s going head-to-head on Auckland harbour.
However, the challengers will have the benefit of the elongated Prada Cup in January and February, so have time on their side.
Trials continue today, ahead of the America's Cup World Series, which begins next Thursday.
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