16 Jun 2017

Team NZ 'can't wait' to take on America's Cup arch-rival

10:30 am on 16 June 2017

Team New Zealand expects a "full-on tussle" with arch-rival Oracle Team USA when racing begins in the America's Cup final in Bermuda on Sunday morning.

Both teams have spent the past days in sailing sessions on Bermuda's Great Sound and fine-tuning the boats in their sheds.

Team New Zealand operations manager Kevin Shoebridge. 23/05/17

Kevin Shoebridge said the New Zealand team "can't wait" to take on Oracle Team USA. Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

"There's no question they are a well-organised, well-drilled outfit," said Team New Zealand operations manager Kevin Shoebridge of the rival that beat them in heartbreaking fashion in San Francisco four years ago, coming back from 8-1 down to win by a single race.

Shoebridge took little notice of the mind games played in the media by Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill, nor did he worry about matching 26-year-old Cup debutant Peter Burling with Spithill's 17-year Cup experience.

"Pete might be young but he's wise beyond his years and he's a winner.

"He's used to pressure, he's used to being at the top of his game, for a long time, so I've got more than enough confidence in how he'll handle that situation."

Shoebridge said Team New Zealand "can't wait" to take on the defender and had put together the best team together possible for the event.

Oracle Team USA start with a one-point advantage under new rules for this Cup, having scored a bonus point by winning the opening challenger round.

"I'd much rather have it than not have it," Spithill said, after pipping Team New Zealand in the challenger qualifiers.

"We've seen how close this racing's been out there and we could come back and look at this bonus point as a real defining moment," he said.

Team New Zealand yesterday trialled the wing it badly damaged in its crash and capsize a week ago, and will have both wings available to it during the match.

The team dismissed talk that its second-built wing was somehow special, saying that while it was the favourite of the two, being the newest, there was little performance difference.

Under new rules, neither team has been allowed to sail-train with another syndicate, but Team New Zealand said that has made little difference as it has needed the past days to make changes to the boat, and test them.

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