Team New Zealand have given fans a sneak peek of their latest America's Cup weapon - sleek new foils that would make the Defender much faster.
Pictures taken over the weekend of Te Rehutai being lifted from the water in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter revealed a brand-new set of foils that are noticeably narrower than what they have been using over the past months.
Team New Zealand won the America's Cup World Series last month using smaller and faster foils than the challengers - Ineos Team UK, American Magic and Luna Rossa - for the Auld Mug.
The new piece of hardware also features a "blended-foil" bulb design - resembling the latest generation kite foils, and according to AUT's sailing professor and Herald columnist Mark Orams, something the Kiwi syndicate has been trialling last week.
"The foils Team NZ have used so far have been pretty out there already and this latest set looks like a refinement or extension of what they have already been using - an evolution, rather than a revolution, but very different to what the other teams are using," Orams said.
While the foils would undoubtedly make Team NZ even faster, it comes with some risk, he warned.
"Inherently, they are lower drag and therefore faster, [but] the key question is how does TNZ manage to control their yacht with lower stability and less lift?
"They'll definitely be fast but low lift and challenging from a stability point of view."
The Kiwis will need plenty of practice to manage these foils through the turns, while light wind take-off "might be challenging too", Orams said.
Last week, Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill revealed the Italian syndicate had been keeping a close eye on Team NZ - and had noticed their move to new foils. Team NZ have been practising on their own while the challengers have battled it out in the Prada Cup.
"Our guys are following them, keeping an eye on them. They just launched a new foil, they look very, very sharp," he said.
Teams are allowed six foils each and while they can revert back to earlier foils, they are required to declare all of the equipment they're planning to use on the Wednesday before racing starts.
It is believed that Ineos Team UK started the Prada Cup round-robin races on their final set of main foils, while Luna Rossa were planning to hold back their final set until the challenger final before opting to use them early in a bid to overcome the British team at the weekend.
Luna Rossa ultimately failed, with the Brits advancing to the Prada Cup final following a thrilling victory on Saturday, leaving the Italians and American Magic to contest the semifinals from Friday.
Team NZ will face the winner of the Prada Cup in the best-of-13-race America's Cup match, starting on March 6.
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.