Team NZ may have lost this morning's first race in the America's Cup, but the defeat hasn't shaken the faith of hundreds of fans who turned out to support them at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's base at Westhaven in Auckland.

A sporting round of applause went around the packed clubhouse as Oracle raced over the finish line, in acknowledgement of a good performance - but that was nothing to the hearty cheer that followed as Dean Barker's crew came in behind.

Earlier the atmosphere quickly went from a buzz of optimism and good spirits to nervous tension as the Kiwi boat struggled to keep pace with the Americans.

Cheers of support and yells of encouragement continued throughout, with one fan waving a "Dean for PM" placard.

Kiwi fans aren't giving up hope Team New Zealand can clinch the cup in this morning's second race.

Annabelle Valentine - with red socks on display - said: "We remain positive. We're going to bring the cup home.''

Simon Geddes was with his family to watch the racing.

"I'm missing work today to watch it. This is the 'world cup' of sailing, it's just amazing.''


He was "pretty sure'' all his staff would be taking the morning off to watch too.

"I said, 'If you want to watch the cup, watch the cup'."

The squadron would be the host club should Team New Zealand win.

Vice Commodore Andy Anderson, said it was a good race.

"We've got two very well matched teams, we've seen that, but we're coming out fighting. Oracle have got nothing to lose and we're have got everything to gain. We still need to be able to finish."

He said the race had become a "real yachting regatta".

"This demonstrates how fantastic sailing can be. This is the real pinnacle of it."

He praised the fans and club members for their commitment.

"The big thing we're seeing here today is members of the public coming down and sharing their passion for sailing and wishing Dean and Grant ... over the line."

More than 300 people packed into the clubhouse, with two rooms dedicated to America's Cup coverage and television screens on nearly every wall.

Supporters of all ages ditched work and school to catch what could be the winning race.

They included girls in school uniforms or maritime-themed dresses, boys in Team NZ T-shirts and plenty of adults wearing red socks to show their support.

Early risers scored the front-row armchairs from about 6.30am, while latecomers were consigned to the edges and corners.

Young children settled down on the floor near the front, but were soon joined by adults when it became clear the only other option was the back.

Sitting crossed-legged on the floor many waved their New Zealand flags, others squashed into armchairs two at a time, taking edge-of-the-seat nerves to another level.

The nerves, anticipation and excitement were certainly on show, as some eschewed the tea and coffee for something a bit stronger to calm their frayed nerves, despite the early hour.