Team New Zealand have confirmed they will face off against their America's Cup rivals in the lead-up to next month's event in Bermuda.

The Kiwi boat is expected to take to the Great Sound for the first time tomorrow, as the team enters the final phase in their build-up for the regatta.

The next 34 days loom as a crucial period for Emirates Team New Zealand as they continue their relentless pursuit of performance gains.

The team has previously remained coy on whether their final build-up will include lining up against their competitors during the official practice racing sessions run by America's Cup race management.


But Team New Zealand chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge yesterday told Tony Veitch on Newstalk ZB the team will opt in.

"We will definitely do some of them for sure, it would be silly of us not to because we have to hone our starting style and technique. The teams up here have done a lot of racing and they're getting pretty handy at it, so we need to jump on board," Shoebridge said.

While Team NZ are on track to re-launch their race boat in Bermuda tomorrow following a marathon 10-day effort to reassemble the 50ft catamaran, it is not clear yet whether they will be in a position to take any part in the next official racing window from April 24-28.

However, Shoebridge said the team definitely intend to be involved in the following practice racing series from May 15-19.

Team NZ won't be able to pick and choose which of their rivals they will face on the water during these sessions - once they throw their hat in the ring it is up to race management to work out the draw, which is based on a simple round robin format.

That means Team NZ will likely meet defenders Oracle Team USA little more than a week before the opening day of racing in the America's Cup on May 26.

Shoebridge said the team are relaxed about the possibility of facing Oracle early, but hinted they may hold back in those outings.

"We'll just go with the flow a little bit, and whatever the draw is that's what it will be. It's pretty informal, some teams could be giving it 100 per cent, some may not, so you don't want to read too much into it," he said.

Team NZ's participation in next week's official racing hinges on how quickly they can get their boat race ready.

"The first couple of days are more about commissioning for us, we have pulled the boat completely apart so we have to be careful we follow all the steps with all the hydraulics and electronics, otherwise we could do a lot of damage," said Shoebridge.

"So we'll probably stay away from [racing] for the first part of the week, and see how we go by the end of the week."

A spate of incidents in Bermuda won't deter Team NZ from pushing their race boat to its limits when the team finally hits the Great Sound.

The new generation America's Cup Class boats are proving faster, flashier and crashier than ever before. The past month of action from the Bermuda-based teams has seen a flurry of mishaps, near misses and even the capsize of Oracle.

The defenders were fortunate to escape with only minimal wing damage, but the accident served as a timely reminder of the narrow margins of error in the Cup boats.

With just over a month to go before the opening race of the America's Cup Qualifying Series, any damage suffered at this point could have a huge impact on a team's campaign. But skipper Glenn Ashby said not pushing the boat enough could also prove costly.

"The boats are very, very difficult to sail and you only need to make a small mistake and the boats can roll. [The latest incidents] show that you really have to be 100 per cent concentrating on the job at hand. You only need a small slip-up and it could be very, very detrimental to the campaign," he said.

"We definitely want to keep this thing on its wheels, that's for sure. But if you don't push, and you don't learn what you need to learn, you don't know where the edge is, you won't be fast enough."

Final countdown


Emirates Team New Zealand to take to the water in Bermuda for the first time.

April 24-28:

The next official practice racing window. *

May 15-19:

Fifth practice racing window.

May 22-23:

Final opportunity for practice racing.

May 26:

Opening day of racing in the America's Cup Qualifying Series.

• Teams are only able to engage in racing or testing in a co-ordinated fashion during the nominated windows.

Listen to the interview on Vietchy on Sport today.