30 Mar 2017

Team NZ off the water, off to Bermuda

2:20 pm on 30 March 2017

After 21 days of practice on the Hauraki Gulf, Team New Zealand have packed up their boat and are preparing to set sail for Bermuda for the America's Cup.

Team New Zealand's new boat 2017.

Team New Zealand's new boat 2017. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand, Aotearoa - the team race boat, was christened six weeks ago and since then, the team have been training to improve the crew work and the boat speed.

Skipper Glenn Ashby said the sailing conditions in Auckland have been ideal preparation but concedes having to travel so far to Bermuda puts them at a disadvantage.

"The conditions have almost been more 'Bermuda-like' than in Bermuda.

"We have probably been the team that has had the chance to sail more days on their America's Cup Class catamaran than anyone to date as the weather at this time of year in Auckland is perfect for sailing.

"But we have needed every moment we could manage out there because while we are in transit the other teams will be making some big gains."

Helmsman Peter Burling is excited about the challenge ahead.

"Every day we have learnt new things and the more the time went by the more we realized how many opportunities we still had for improvement, exploring and testing," he said.

"The feedback that the sailors give during a training session regarding their feeling onboard is crucial. If this is true for all boats it is even more important in full foiling catamarans where each parameter is taken to the extreme. We are very satisfied with the job we've done so far, but the time has come to put a line in the sand in New Zealand and so now the final lap begins."

CEO Grant Dalton believes they have a competitive boat.

"We have been watched very closely by the Oracle (America's Cup holders) spies every minute we have been on the water and their vigilance makes me think we built a very good racing machine. We could keep improving and developing the boat indefinitely, but we have got to go racing at some stage, and now is that time."

The team leaves for Bermuda in just over one weeks time.

The Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers will begin on May 27th and Team New Zealand's first race will be against Groupama Team France.