TODAY |

After anti-climactic finish to Christmas Cup, Team NZ eager to be part of potential future practice races

Team New Zealand may have won the silverware during the warm-up races for next year's America's Cup but they didn't get everything on their Christmas wish list.

Emirates Team New Zealand cross INEOS Team UK in race four during the America's Cup World Series on Auckland Harbour on December 18 Source: Getty

By Felicity Reid for rnz.co.nz

After the last four days of sailing in Tāmaki Makaurau challengers American Magic and Luna Rossa can toast their design teams who have engineered competitive AC75s, while Team UK will be hoping to unwrap some boat speed this festive season.

Mother nature and a struggling opponent robbed Team New Zealand of one last day of meaningful racing on their home waters before the America's Cup defenders disappear from the scene to work on their race craft and boat by themselves.

Team New Zealand was lapping Team UK in the opening race before light winds cancelled Sunday's Christmas Cup racing on the Hauraki Gulf.

The New Zealanders had already lifted the America's Cup World Series trophy on Saturday and did not need to race the British to know Te Rehutai is currently the superior boat, but they did need the opportunity to gather more data on racing in different conditions.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Light winds saw the Kiwis unable to get up on their foils to finish within the 45 minute limit. Source: 1 Sport

However, the race director Iain Murray might be able to offer them a reprieve - with additional practice days if the harbourmaster and all teams can agree.

"I would like to be out there on some more days, clearly there aren't any days on the schedule at the moment," Murray said

"The days that I had pencilled into my diary were the 7th, 8th, 11th and 12th [of January] as maybe days that it might be possible but there is a lot of agreement needed on that."

Team New Zealand's helmsman Peter Burling can see merit in Murray's late suggestion for race boats and officials.

"We really enjoy sailing these boats against other people and this period has been a huge opportunity for everyone to get all the systems working on board, the talk between the race yachts and the event so if there was more practice racing we'd be taking part," Burling said.

But Team UK's skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, who is driving a boat that is lagging behind in the design competition, is noncommittal on whether he'd want to be racing again before the Prada Cup which starts in three weeks.

Ben Ainslie of INEOS Team UK Source: Getty

Team UK's shore crew will be under the pump trying to make their boat Britannia competitive after a disastrous start to racing - without a win and unable to make it around the race course in light conditions.

"I think there are pros and cons to it for sure for us," Ainslie said.

"Any time on the water, any time racing against the opposition is valuable, you're going to learn from them but at the same time we've clearly got to make some changes so I can't give you a firm answer on that either way but it clearly has an impact."

American Magic will not have to alter its AC75 Patriot as much as other challenger teams but skipper Terry Hutchinson is keeping a close watch on what is happening in the other boat sheds.

American Magic in a practice run off the coast of Auckland. Source: America's Cup

"You look around the fleet and there's a lot of really good ideas in the other boats and so you're always analysing and comparing what you have versus what the three other teams have," Hutchinson said.

"It's good to see some of our ideas which seem to be working and at the same time grab on to a couple of others that you can implement into your own, be it sails or techniques in sailing the boat to make the boat go faster around the race course.

Luna Rossa's helmsman Jimmy Spithill, who has had plenty of battles over the years with Team New Zealand, sums up the work ahead of all the challengers.

Luna Rossa in training in Auckland ahead of the start of racing. Source: America's Cup

"I think the Kiwis are a big step ahead of the challengers, whoever comes out of this challenger group has got a big gap to bridge at the moment," he said.

Racing takes a break until 15 January when the three challengers will be back competing for the Prada Cup to win the right to race Team New Zealand for the America's Cup in March.

However, the action continues on land with the America's Cup Village on Auckland's waterfront open free to the public everyday, except Christmas Day.