Team New Zealand's first full-scale AC75 has passed early tests with flying colours, but the team is under no illusions that they have the perfect model – yet.
Team New Zealand were the first of the competing syndicates to launch a full-scale AC75, getting 'Te Aihe' on the water at the start of the month, with the New York Yacht Club's American Magic following suit days later.
The launch gave the team a brief moment of celebration amid the constant pressure of the campaign. After working exclusively in simulations while their first AC75 was being built, the crew got their first opportunity to sail last week and has already had the 75-foot foiling monohull up on its foils under sail.
Over the coming months, the team has to get familiar with the yacht and identify what needs to be improved in the second boat which will be used to defend the America's Cup.
"We're under no illusions that if we were to race the America's Cup in the exact boat we've got on the water now, then we wouldn't be too competitive," Team New Zealand designer Dan Bernasconi told the Herald.
"These first few weeks on the water are incredibly valuable because we'll learn lessons in terms of performance, boat handling and mechanical systems that will feed into the next design. It's really these next few weeks that are most important because we need to get into the build of our second boat really soon to be able to launch in time to get that on the water and debug for the America's Cup.
"There's not a huge window, which is why it's a pretty big advantage for us to be on the water ahead of the British and the Italians, because their window is rapidly disappearing."
Team New Zealand wasted no time in trying to work out issues and identify changes, focusing on how the mechanical systems are operating before moving on the look at the boat speed and performance numbers.
The AC75 is a complex vessel, with a number of mechanical and hydraulic systems needed to work together for the boat to stay on its foils. Team New Zealand has had a few minor teething issues early on, including problems hoisting the twin-skin mainsail.
"Every new boat and, particularly, a new class presents problems – you can't predict everything, so there's been some minor issues, but nothing major and we're really pleased with how it's going," Bernasconi said.
"It took us quite a long time to get the sail up on the first day, then every day we've sort of halved the amount of time that's taken.
"We'll continue to learn little lessons there, but we never expected any of those systems to work perfectly straight out of the box. We've gone through several campaigns ad we know with every new boat you're going to find little issues but we're just glad at the moment, touch wood, there's nothing major.
"It's a relief for us that the boat works as it's designed to work; no showstoppers and the concept of the AC75 yacht seems to work like we expected and all the sailors are really excited about that."