Team NZ in the dark over Oracle's true speed

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2013

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Team New Zealand are still trying to get definitive performance figures on Oracle but have conceded that the America's Cup holders look "real quick".

Team New Zealand's shore crew had the syndicate's giant catamaran in the shed yesterday for the start of modifications aimed at gaining more speed for the Louis Vuitton Cup final starting on August 18.

So members of the sailing crew took the opportunity to board a chase boat and spend the day observing Oracle's two-boat testing on San Francisco Bay.

While the Kiwis have totally dominated Italy's Luna Rossa and struggling challenger Artemis Racing will need a miracle to be competitive, the big question remains: how fast are the Americans?

"Those guys are real quick and they are really putting a lot of time and effort into their manoeuvres," Team New Zealand trimmer and multihull specialist Glenn Ashby said.

"They will definitely raise the bar over the next few weeks and it's going to be a real boat race, that's for sure."

The problem is the Kiwis are struggling for exact data on Oracle.

They have filed two series of questions to the International Jury asking why Oracle aren't making their performance data available when they are two-boat testing on the race course, often immediately after a challenger race.

The challengers have to make their statistics public. Oracle can punch those numbers into their computer and get a strong comparison against their own figures.

But that information flow is a one-way system at present.

"They have got a pretty good idea of our performance. They can analyse our numbers and angles. We haven't had that opportunity (to analyse Oracle's numbers).

"So they probably have the slight upper hand in knowing how we are and we can only guess theoretically the performance of their boats," Ashby said.

"So we have got a rough idea of how they are going and we are definitely going to have our work cut out for us."

That's presuming they can get through the challenger series to be the one that goes up against Oracle in the main event in September. On current performance, that seems inevitable. Team New Zealand are streaks ahead of their limited opponents, yet they are still trying to squeeze more and more out of the boat.

Part of that is because this design is so new. Potential improvements are limitless at the moment. The Kiwis have nearly three weeks to tinker with their design and testing.

"It's a full development class and programme and we really have to keep our foot flat to the floor, not just with the actual sailing of the boat but with design aspects of the boat," Ashby said.

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"We have had new bits and pieces that have been in build and that we want to implement and now is a great opportunity to do that over the next few days.

"Ultimately we have to be fast to win the cup and you have to sail as well - they go hand in hand."

- Stuff

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