Heat is on as Kiwis prepare their sails ahead of spectacle

Emirates Team New Zealand training in the Solent Picture: Shaun Roster'' www.shaunroster.com

Emirates Team New Zealand training in the Solent Picture: Shaun Roster'' www.shaunroster.com

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THERE are just 20 days to go until one of the biggest spectacles to ever grace the Portsmouth stage kicks off.

And the heat is on as the first of the international competitors battling it out in the America’s Cup World Series arrived to train in the Solent.

Emirates Team New Zealand have been in the water preparing for the eagerly-anticipated event featuring Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie’s Portsmouth-based British team Land Rover BAR.

A video was made of the Kiwi squad going head-to-head with the British as the region basked in glorious weather.

And team bosses have spoken of their excitement ahead of the big occasion, which takes place from July 23 to 26.

New Zealand sailing director Glenn Ashby said: ‘Thursday was our first sail on the water with our converted boat.

‘It was great to be back on the water and shake the boat down and make sure everything was working. We’ve got a few different crew members here as well who are rotating through.’

Emirates Team New Zealand came close to overhauling America’s Cup defenders Oracle Team USA in 2013.

The visiting sailors included helmsman Peter Burling and his Olympic crew Blair Tuke, Ray Davies, Richard Meacham and Guy Endean.

The training gave the crew to try out different roles.

Mr Ashby also shrugged off the fact that Land Rover BAR will have home advantage as they train out of their new state-of-the-art headquarters at the Camber.

He said: ‘Being on your home field you tend to have a little bit of an advantage, but with the type of racing that we’re doing, it’s so micro-focused when it’s happening, it’s almost gust by gust, shift by shift. Anything could happen.’

The Kiwis arrived last Thursday and flew back to New Zealand yesterday.

They will return on July 10 and join other global teams at Portsmouth’s naval base ahead of the World Series.

Talking of their stay, Mr Ashby said: ‘The Solent’s an interesting place. I think the tide and the currents are probably the thing that’s most interesting thing here.

‘Guys like Ray have spent a lot of time on the Solent before, so have got quite a lot of experience in that.

‘Where we’re going to be racing, off Portsmouth, will be a great venue. We’re really looking forward to it.’

The full list of competitors are; Artemis Racing (Sweden), Land Rover BAR, Emirates Team New Zealand, Oracle Team USA, Groupama Team France and Softbank Team Japan.

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