23 Jul 2015

Steep learning curve for Team NZ

5:54 pm on 23 July 2015

The first heavyweight showdown in the lead-up to the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda takes places in Portsmouth this weekend.

The AC45 series on the Solent includes all six of the syndicates already confirmed for the 2017 America's Cup programme in Bermuda.

It will also be the first time the new-look Team New Zealand syndicate has competed and skipper Peter Burling says the focus in the four-race programme is all about learning.

"We've got a pretty steep learning curve and this weekend isn't the end goal. The end goal is about bringing the Cup back to New Zealand from Bermuda," he said.

"We're all very realistic about that and we want to do as well as we can but the main goal is to learn."

Emirates Team NZ in action.

Emirates Team NZ in action. Photo: Emirates Team NZ

The team has a new look to it following the contoversial departure of Dean Barker earlier this year.

Barker has now joined the Japanese syndicate and will be racing in Portsmouth too, as well America's Cup winner Jimmy Spithill.

Burling believes they have a good mix of youth and experience and will adapt quickly.

"The likes of Ray Davies and Glenn (Ashby) are two really good yachties and it's been really helpful having them here to speed up our learning curve. I think we have a really good mix of youth and experience with me and Blair (Tuke) and Guy (Endean) and then Ray and Glenn with the experience."

While the initial plan might be to take a cautious approach Burling concedes that could be tossed overboard.

"You think you will start out cautious but once you start out there it's one of those things you'll be pushing as hard as you can to try and take it out... and with these boats you're actually a lot safer when you are going at a pretty good speed, so it's tough to say what is cautious in these boats."

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