Team New Zealand may not have raced since December but they’re still making waves around the America’s Cup camp, with their boat being described as “scary” on the eve of the finals.
Eliminated competitors INEOS Team UK are still making their presence felt at the Waitamata Harbour with comments leading into the series between Team NZ and Luna Ross, although team boss Sir Ben Ainslie said it’s too early to predict who will lift the Auld Mug.
One thing is certain, though: Ainslie and INEOS CEO Grant Simmer are in awe of Te Rehutai.
"When we go and watch the Kiwis sail they can turn on some really impressive performances,” Simmer said in an interview with Planet Sail.
"What we've seen of them, their performance is pretty scary. If we had of ended up racing as the challenger, we'd have been quite intimidated by some of the performances we've seen.
"Have the Italians bridged the gap? Hard to say. They've certainly got a lot better and are racing very well."
Ainslie agreed, saying while the Kiwis may have some advantages, the Italians do as well.
"Over 10/11 knots of wind the Kiwis have an advantage speed-wise," Ainslie said.
"The Italians will be match fit and it's sport — anything can happen.
"You have to sail these boats very accurately. You only have to sneeze at the wrong time and they can capsize.
"It's way too early to put bets down."
Ainslie also confirmed INEOS Team UK won’t be assisting Luna Rossa with practice racing before the finals, which had occurred between challengers in the past, although he didn’t address whether that was due to the fallout syndicates had with Luna Rossa over their push to continue the Prada Cup despite a community breakout of Covid-19 in Auckland.
"The America's Cup has a history of politics and so on behind the scenes," he told Planet Sail.
"At the end of the day, we'd rather stay out of it. It's right that Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand are on their own from here on.
“May the best team win."