8 Jun 2017

Team NZ sailing close to the wind on gear

3:34 pm on 8 June 2017

Team New Zealand will head into tomorrow's third day of America's Cup challenger semi-finals without a spare wing.

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Team New Zealand races BAR during the America's Cup challenger semi-finals. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The team worked through the night after yesterday's dramatic capsize to have the damaged boat ready for racing today, which was then called off due to high winds.

Work continues on the wing badly damaged when the boat crashed and capsized at the start of its second encounter of the day with Sir Ben Ainslie's BAR team.

"The boys are working really hard on getting the damaged panels back together again," skipper Glenn Ashby told RNZ.

Regatta organisers have boosted the scheduled two pairs of races to three pairs to try to get the semi-final programme back on track.

"If you have a wing issue tomorrow on a three-race day, to even get back in and change a wing you're going to be in big trouble, so we're hoping that we'll be OK with just our one wing," said Ashby.

The team managed to do a wing change just before yesterday's racing, and were helped by a seven-minute delay to the preceding race because of winds above the allowable limit of 24 knots.

Team New Zealand got to the start with BAR with just minutes to spare, and went on to win the first encounter of the day.

Ashby said the team's two wings were virtually identical, countering a comment earlier in the day by regatta director Iain Murray that the team had a "sacred wing" that it had been trying to preserve for the America's Cup match.

"Although you have your favourite, like your favourite pair of shoes, we've got two wings that are set up pretty identically.

"For me as a wing trimmer, I don't really care which one we use, they're both bloody good."

Conditions forecast for tomorrow look more race-able with winds between 12-18 knots expected by the afternoon, but there remains a risk if wind speeds stay higher.

Team New Zealand and Softbank Team Japan both have 3-1 leads over respective rivals BAR and Artemis, and need five wins to go through to the challenger finals.

The packed schedule tomorrow raises the stakes for teams as any damage or problems could rapidly cost points.

"For the whole team we want to get as many points on the board as quickly as we can, and try and get into the finals as quickly and cleanly as we can, so we're looking to getting out there," Ashby said.

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