Team New Zealand captured plenty of attention as they shook the dust off their America's Cup catamaran in San Francisco yesterday, but the real show starts today.
The Kiwis debuted their AC72 for two hours in relatively light winds on the famous Bay as rivals Luna Rossa and holders Oracle also sailed the competition course.
It was merely a shakedown for Team New Zealand, designed to test the boat after it was put back together following shipping from Auckland.
The shore crew were double-checking everything overnight with a view to having skipper Dean Barker put the accelerator down today when winds are expected to be stronger.
But even in 15 knots of breeze, TNZ impressed as they got up on their foils to show both their speed and slick crew work.
They even got the "money shot" they were wanting, streaking over the water on their foils with the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop.
"It's six years since we sailed on an America's Cup course. We're not used to this place, but the guys just clicked straight in. It was perfect, a great day, no issues at all," a happy TNZ boss Grant Dalton said.
"The guys know their jobs, the systems work and even though we have made significant changes since Auckland, we always expected the boat to pop put of the box.
"We got the shot across the Golden Gate on our foils. Tick it, done and we'll get into it properly tomorrow."
Barker felt conditions were ideal for their first-up exercise.
"That's a bit of history ... three AC72s sailing together in the same bit of water. It was good to get out there and get a feel for the Bay. There was not much breeze by San Francisco standards, but enough on the first day," he said.
Strategist Adam Beashel summed up the mood of the crew, who are anxious to test the modifications that have been made to the boat following its successful trialling programme in New Zealand.
"It's been a long wait to sail an America's Cup boat on an America's Cup venue again. It's 2007 [in Valencia] for most of us. We've been looking forward to getting this thing out ripping on San Francisco Bay and get racing again," Beashel said.
Swedish challengers Artemis Racing are the only syndicate not on the water at present.
They are still coming to grips with the capsize tragedy that cost British sailor Andrew Simpson his life two weeks ago.
They are conducting an internal review into that accident and have asked for patience, with team boss Paul Cayard saying: "We will only race if our sailing team believes they are safe racing AC72s. This confidence will be dependent on many criteria, one of the most important of which is the new safety criteria and rules changes that the America's Cup organisers and competitors will adopt."
The four syndicates are now weighing up the 37 safety recommendations made by the America's Cup review committee that were released yesterday.
- © Fairfax NZ News