Team New Zealand have laid their cards on the table, and they're pretty pleased with their hand.

After months of hiding down in Auckland with only their chase boat to spar with in mock match races, the Kiwi team got some real racing in Bermuda yesterday.

Glenn Ashby and crew impressed in their first showdowns on the water, notching two wins from their three match-ups, including a confidence-boosting victory over Artemis, who set the pace in earlier rounds of the official practice racing.

Emirates Team New Zealand's appearance on the final day of the fourth round of practice racing came just a week after the Kiwi team launched their America's Cup Class (ACC) catamaran in Bermuda.


Team NZ made a strong statement, dealing the Swedish team just their second loss in 17 outings. After their convincing win over Artemis, the Kiwis also toppled French team Groupama.

The only blip on Team NZ's record was a loss to Team Japan, skippered by Dean Barker, in their final match-up.

Despite the loss, Peter Burling, who deposed Barker at the helm of Team NZ, said the crew were happy with their first proper hit-out.

"We had a few little stuff-ups there, but Team Japan were sailing really well today and they beat Jimmy [Spithill] and the Oracle guys by quite a bit as well," Burling told Tony Veitch on Newstalk ZB.

"It was really good to check-in and make sure we're in the ballpark in terms of speed, and it seems we are, so we're really happy with that. But days like today really highlight the areas you've got to improve on."

Spithill couldn't resist rubbing Team NZ's nose in their loss to their former long-time skipper. "[It was] good to see Dean Barker and Team Japan, beating Team NZ and Peter Burling by a healthy margin in their race," Spithill noted in his wrap-up of the week's practice racing.

Ashby said he is happy with what has been achieved, but is under no illusion of the work still needing to be done within the next month.

"The team has done an excellent job so far, still we need to make sure we keep pushing hard, as every other team will do the same.

"We have just under one month to maximise what we have in preparation for the racing with one more race period in that time to check in before it is all on."

Team NZ's win over Artemis in particular was a positive sign the Kiwi team are in reasonable shape.

The Swedish team have emerged as the form boat through the practice rounds, and have blitzed Cup defenders Oracle Team USA for speed in earlier match-ups.

Artemis were unbeaten in the third official practice racing window earlier this month, recording a 9-0 win-loss record, with four wins against Oracle.

In a video blog on the America's Cup website, Oracle Team USA chief executive and event head Russell Coutts admitted Artemis are the form team, but pointed out the rate of development in the ACC boats is so quick, a lot can happen over the next month before racing starts.

"Artemis Racing are still the form team. I think if we were racing the America's Cup today, they would be the favourite," said Coutts.

"The revolution with this America's Cup has been quite incredible. A lot is still changing, it's too early to predict who will be [the strongest] but the performance of the boats has been impressive ... we're getting close to that 50-knot speed barrier."

The opening race of the America's Cup qualifiers is on May 27.