Team New Zealand stay coy over joining America's Cup practice racing in Bermuda
Team New Zealand are no certainty to start the next official practice racing in Bermuda as they continue to tinker with their new boat.
The Kiwi syndicate are bedding into their Bermuda base and are making rapid progress in putting their AC50 back together again after it arrived on a cargo plane from New Zealand.
Skipper Glenn Ashby said they hoped to have it out on the water on Sunday (NZ time) but was coy on whether they would be ready to make the start line for the official practice racing that is held from Tuesday till Saturday next week.
"We'd like to do the next practice racing period, but we'll still be doing recommissioning in the early part of the week. We may do our own thing for the first couple of days. We'll see how we go later in the week. We'll see how the recommissioning goes," Ashby told Bermuda's Royal Gazette.
Team New Zealand have missed all the Bermuda practice racing to date after a late rule change saw the format given the green light while the Kiwis were still in Auckland finishing off their testing and training.
Their five rivals are eager to see the Kiwis in action in their radical pedal powered boat, just as Team New Zealand are keen to get a handle on the comparative speed of their opponents.
But, having operated by themselves at home, they also see their isolation as an advantage. Weighing up the benefits of getting involved in the practice racing will be a key decision in the Kiwis' buildup to the challenger qualifying series that starts on May 27 (NZ time).
Clearly they won't be rushed for the sake of it given the intricacies of reassembling their foiling catamaran.
"Re-commissioning the boat has been a lot of work," Ashby told the Royal Gazette.
"Getting all the electronics and hydraulics back together, and getting all the wiring and cabling done.
"We've had to change a few cable runs. Some little upgrades were added, but it's mostly recommissioning.
"The wing is back together. The bike grinding units have gone in. There's a whole lot going back together quickly."
Ashby revealed they would still be using their test foils as work continued on the foils they will use in competition racing.
Given the large amount of one-design elements on these boats, he saw the foils as a key ingredient to the winning formula for this America's Cup.
"Your foil design and controllability, how accurately you can foil will probably be key. Mechanics and crew work will be important but ultimately, I think, the fastest boat will win," Ashby said.
"At the end of the day, you've got to be fast in a straight line.
"Your crew work has to be impeccable; but all will have excellent crew work by the time racing starts. It will come down to performance. I think the fastest boat will win."
Quizzed on Team New Zealand's cycle grinding option, Ashby played down scepticism over the practicality of moving the big men off their bikes and from one hull to the other during turns.
"It is like anything else, it just takes a bit of practice," Ashby said.
"The normal mountain bike clips have been redesigned to suit sailing and getting across the trampoline. We have different styles of apparatus for people's different roles.
"It is really no different from the standard way ... you still have to get from one side of the boat to the other."