By Jane Phare
Oracle's boat builders have conceded the Kiwis have a better boat and are likely to win the America's Cup.
In a frank interview this week, Tim Smyth, manager of the Oracle-owned Core Builders Composites in Warkworth, conceded Team New Zealand were odds on to win the Auld Mug.
"You'd have to put your money behind Team New Zealand at the moment with the boat speed they've shown which seems to be coming from their foil and wing package," Smyth told the Weekend Herald.
Team NZ head into tomorrow's morning racing in Bermuda knowing they could claim the trophy as early as Monday.
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Smyth said much of Team New Zealand's advantage was down to sailing and manoeuvring.
"You've got a young vigorous team in New Zealand, a bunch of young guys who I think have choreographed the handling of that boat beautifully and they work really efficiently together," he said.
Asked what Oracle could do to turn things around, Smyth quipped that Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill could work on his starts.
Staff at Southern Spars in Auckland, who built Team New Zealand's boat, are also confident they have the winning catamaran. They revealed this week that TNZ's boat was considerably lighter than Oracle, due to carbon-fibre technology developed in-house, as were the crew overall. That gave them an advantage in being able to get up on the foils quicker and more easily in light winds.
Southern Spars' marketing manager Ben Gladwell said he didn't think there was much Spithill could do at this stage.
"Where else do you look? They should have turned up on day one of the America's Cup with a boat that was 100%. If anyone is going to make gains it is probably Team New Zealand.
"If I was Oracle I'd be going sailing . . . I'd be trying to find different ways of using the gear they already have."
Gladwell said he would be "embarrassed" to be in Oracle's position.
"I would expect (them) to be absolutely smacking us because of the way the tables were weighted in their favour. "
Smyth also revealed that Oracle tried hard to sign up Team New Zealand's brilliant Australian skipper Glen Ashby but in the end was outbid by Emirates Team New Zealand.
Smyth said Oracle "went after" Ashby but failed. "We competed for Glen Ashby. They (TNZ) out paid us. So they got Glen Ashby and we didn't because they paid him more."