THE first of the international teams competing in this month’s America’s Cup World Series has arrived to train in the Solent.
Emirates Team New Zealand are in the waters preparing for the international sailing spectacle, which also features British team Land Rover BAR, being spearheaded by Olympic hero Sir Ben Ainslie.
And Kiwi 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: ‘I think this first event could be one of the most exciting AC45 World Series events ever seen.’
Emirates Team New Zealand, who came close to overhauling America’s Cup defenders Oracle Team USA in 2013, took to the Solent in the foiling AC45 catamaran this week, lining up against the British hosts.
The visiting sailors include helmsman Peter Burling and his Olympic crew Blair Tuke, Ray Davies, Richard Meacham and Guy Endean.
For the Kiwi team, the trip to Britain has brought a first taste of sailing the newly converted foiling AC45Fs. The training camp is also a chance for New Zealand to trial different crew members in different roles.
Mr Ashby said: ‘[Thursday] was our first sail on the water with our converted boat.
‘It was great to be back on the water and just shake the boat down and make sure everything was working.
‘We’ve got a few different crew members here as well who are sort of rotating through, so it was good just to start that process.’
While Land Rover BAR have been training hard out of their home base on Portsmouth’s Camber, Mr Ashby says he isn’t intimidated by any home advantage that Britain’s Ainslie and his crew might enjoy.
‘I think 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-focussed when it’s happening, it’s almost gust by gust, shift by shift,’ he said.
‘Anything could happen.’
I think this first event could be one of the most exciting AC45 World Series events ever seen.Team New Zealand sailing director Glenn Ashby