As Team New Zealand held a comfortable lead down the final run streaking their way to the all-important fifth win of the Louis Vuitton challenger final, those on board the team's supporter's boat were anything but.

There were no early celebrations on board Chaos - one of the aptly named charter boats the team use to take sponsors and supporters out on the water - only pained expressions, anguished sighs, and cautious commentary.

It was only once Tina Symmans - one of the Emirates Team New Zealand board members and chief whip-cracker - had blasted her air horn, signaling the New Zealand boat had crossed the finish line without incident, that the supporters were able to exhale and the celebrating commenced.

If the past few weeks of racing in Bermuda had taught them anything, it's that this team knows how to deliver the scares.


Just an hour earlier Team NZ had been on track to secure the crucial point over Artemis, before they ran up against their old foe: the clock. In scenes somewhat reminiscent of San Francisco, the race timed out 200m from the newly-adjusted finish line, with Team NZ leading Artemis.

Memories of the team's inexplicable mishap at the final mark rounding the previous day, in which they virtually stopped dead in the water and were nearly overhauled by Artemis in a thrilling finish, were also fresh.

And of course Team NZ's near-catastrophic capsize just six days earlier served as a sobering reminder of how quickly fortunes can change in the high-powered catamarans with just one lapse in judgement.

"They bloody did it!" said Symmans as she let the enormity of the past few weeks set in.
That was quickly replaced by the enormity of what the next two weeks has in store for the team in the America's Cup match. The highly-anticipated re-match with Oracle Team USA is set to test the team's resilience like never before.

Ashby joked the team would allow themselves "half an hour" to celebrate today's win in the Louis Vuitton challenger final, before they think about tackling the challenge of wresting the America's Cup away from Oracle Team USA.

"Hopefully Dalts [Grant Dalton]will give us half an hour to have a celebratory get together.

As a group we're all very, very much looking forward to relaxing a bit tonight and celebrating that tick in the box. We've ticked a couple and I don't think we'll be happy until we've ticked that final one," said Ashby, who is the only survivor of the sailing crew that built an 8-1 lead in the previous cup event, only to watch Oracle win eight straight races and retain the trophy.

The Team NZ skipper and wing trimmer believed it was important that the team took some time to reflect on what they went through just to get to the startline in Bermuda.
"Really, only a couple of years ago, the team was looking down the barrel of having its doors closed and for Emirates Team New Zealand, who have been involved in the America's Cup for such a long period of time, that would have been a real tragedy," he said.

"A few people got together, managed to keep the doors open and that whole team has effectively been rebuilt from the ground up. We were a strong team in the last campaign, but certainly this team, I believe, is a much stronger unit than we've seen before."

Even since they arrived in Bermuda, Team NZ's journey has not been smooth.

They sustained damage on one of their first few days in the water, when, as they attempted the tight harbour exit got caught in a gust and nearly capsized. The net result of the incident was a day and a half of work in the shed for the shore crew.

A couple of weeks later the shore crew were staring a hole in the side of Team NZ's hull after a pre-start collision with British team Ben Ainslie Racing during a practice race.
But those setbacks all seemed relatively minor compared to the challenge of the salvage effort required after what Ashby cheekily refers to as the team's "submarine expedition" last week, when the New Zealand boat - Aotearoa - returned to the dock a mangled wreck.

Peter Burling, who has shown incredible composure at the helm of Team NZ in his first America's Cup, said the team owes the new-look Louis Vuitton trophy to the unsung heroes in the boatshed.

"The shore team has done an absolutely amazing job to get us out on the water and give us the tools we need to win. It was a great way to be able to repay them today."