'This is the business end now but we've got a long way to go.'
Sleep-deprived sailing fans will be hoping for a few more early starts as Emirates Team New Zealand begins its Louis Vuitton America's Cup challenger playoff finals series today.
This morning at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) on Auckland's waterfront, the home club of Team NZ, people gathered for a viewing party to watch the races against Sweden's Artemis Racing on the big screen.
RNZYS general manager Hayden Porter said the club would show the races live for its members and their guests.
Yesterday afternoon, he was expecting 200-300 people to show up.
"This is the business end now but [we've got] a long way to go," he said.
It has become something of a tradition as members have gathered for breakfast throughout the Louis Vuitton qualifiers and challenger playoffs, which are being held in Bermuda.
On the Coromandel Peninsula, Mercury Bay Boating Club members also keenly anticipated today's races, but also had one eye on a potential rematch with Oracle Team USA.
Commodore Chris Johnston, whose club challenged for the America's Cup in 1988 against Dennis Conner and the San Diego Yacht Club, said some members were anxious about a another series with Jimmy Spithill and the Americans.
"I don't think you could script it any better than having us against Oracle in the America's Cup proper," Johnston said.
"It'd be nice to even the score a little bit too after a few years back - I think that still hurts a little bit."
The club, which was awarded the Cup long enough for its name to be engraved on it during a bitter court battle against Conner, was "wishing the boys well".
Mercury Bay's members believed the 2017 crew has what it takes to make the final dance.
"I think we have the team and the hardware to get past Artemis, so it should be a good event, and hopefully we'll keep learning and keep developing and be able to take it to Oracle."
If Team NZ beat Artemis they will take on Team USA for the Cup later this month.
Meanwhile, a "go fast" package of rapidly-built boat parts is being flown to Bermuda after several incidents during the challenger series - including last Wednesday's dramatic flip.
Team NZ hope to receive their shipment early this week, with the state-of-the-art pieces intended to be used for the grudge showdown with the Americans.
Team NZ's road to regaining the America's Cup
Team NZ's series against the Swedes, like all the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger series this year, is a first to five contest.
The winner will then take on defending champions Team USA in the 35th America's Cup Match.
This year the first team to earn seven points wins the Auld Mug, which is the oldest trophy in international sport.
During the last America's Cup in 2013, defenders Team USA pulled off a remarkable comeback after Team NZ squandered an 8-1 lead eventually losing 8-9.
The America's Cup races will be held on June 17 and 18, and between June 24 and 27.
5.12am Race 1 SWE vs NZL
5.51am Race 2 NZL vs SWE
6.30am Race 3 SWE vs NZL
Three more races are scheduled for tomorrow during the same times.
For all the race action and analysis head to nzherald.co.nz or listen to Newstalk ZB.
*All dates are confirmed but may be subject to change, depending on weather conditions.