Team New Zealand are preparing to lay all their cards on the table during this week's official practice racing session in Bermuda.

With 11 days to go before the real racing gets underway in the America's Cup qualifiers, this week's five-day practice window will be crucial for the teams to test the reliability of their boats in proper race configuration.

Like many of their rivals, Emirates Team New Zealand have pushed their development phase right to the wire, continuing to trial new equipment and control systems on their 50-ft America's Cup Class catamaran since hitting the water in Bermuda late last month.

Just over the weekend the Kiwi syndicate were sporting a brand new set of rudders, but a crucial piece of the puzzle is still thought to be missing - the team's final set of race daggerboards.


Team NZ sailing coach Ray Davies said the foils have arrived in Bermuda and are being prepared to be put on the boat.

"We have a development testing programme for those boards, so we will definitely use them before the Louis Vuitton series, and we've got a lot to learn with those boards. They're more up-range than what we currently have," said Davies.

"It's a pretty interesting stage of the campaign for everyone because they are going to have to start showing all of their cards pretty soon. We have another practice race week coming up next week and I think all the teams have to learn about their equipment, it's a huge part of the sport, so we'll definitely start using [the new foils] once they're ready."

With many teams still in experimentation mode through the earlier stages of practice racing, Davies said he expects this week's series to provide a much more accurate gauge of the relative strengths of each of the boats.

"All the teams are making big gains at the moment, so I don't think you can really take too much out of the earlier races that we've seen. We've seen some new equipment come on stream, and that's going to make a huge difference - it's like putting a new engine in a car. So really this next week will be interesting and I think everyone is going to start using all of their best equipment and we'll start getting a very good idea of the true speed of the competition."

Having missed all but one day of the previous four practice racing periods, Team New Zealand plan to be involved in as much racing as possible this week.

They may have to sit out some of the action, however, with the racing coinciding with measurement week. All the competing teams will be getting a visit from the measurement committee at some stage during the week to ensure their boats comply with the design rules.

"We'll definitely try do as much racing as we can, we haven't done much against another yacht. We do a lot against the chase boat, but that's not the same thing - it's a bit like dancing with your sister really. We have to put ourselves under the pressure of actually racing against another AC50 in really close quarters."

Event boss and Oracle Team USA chief executive Russell Coutts said he expects to see more consistency from the teams during this week's practice racing.

"[The competitors] will be wanting to check that their reliability is in the right space because some of them have been trying things and the boats, frankly, haven't been as reliable as what you'd need them to be during the race series. Up until now I think there's been a fair bit of experimentation going on, but from now on I expect they'll be refining their techniques," Coutts said.

"Some of them are introducing their final pieces of technology, their final foils or their final control systems and so forth. So that's going to be interesting to see, but I expect the quality of the racing will lift as teams get into this refinement stage."