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Sunday, February 19, 2017
New Zealand Got Opponents Back Pedalling

Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling says there's more to their radical America's Cup boat than meets the eye in terms of performance.

The syndicate's decision to go for pedal power to provide the energy for their control systems and wingsail and foils has grabbed all the attention since New Zealand Aotearoa hit the water last week.

The four cycle pedestals in each hull of the 50-foot catamaran, replacing traditional arm-powered grinding stations, have their rivals in a spin.

The big secret is out but it's what can't be seen that may be just as vital to Team New Zealand's chances of winning back the Auld Mug in Bermuda where racing for the 35th edition of yachting's most famous trophy starts on May 26th.

With spies about, Team New Zealand are keeping the detail of their revolutionary boat under wraps as they set about a crucial testing period on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour over the next month.

"We're pretty happy," the understated Burling said of the new toy and its initial performances on the water.

"There are definitely a lot of things on that boat apart from the obvious one that everyone is asking questions about that are pretty innovative and unique.

With so much internal expectation as the building process was completed, Burling said it was very satisfying to see the theories pan out under the pressures of initial performance.

"Everything is pretty close to expected," Burling, the Olympic 49er gold medallist from Rio said as he took charge of the wheel.

"It's a cool beast to sail and definitely a step up from our test boat in a lot of regards.

"We have a few more bits and pieces going on, we have simplified a few things, it's all working really well."

But he emphasised this was just the start of the real game for the sailing team after three years of design, testing and construction.

"We are pretty pleased how it's going at the moment but we have a long way to go before we can take on Oracle.

"The shore team have provided us with an amazing tool to be able to go out and learn and improve. We have to keep that improvement and development going into Bermuda. That's what we are going to have to do to win it just keep improving till that last race."

Burling reckons he has "got off pretty lightly" in terms of the new cycling skills that his crew have had to get up to speed with as well as work on their sailing techniques for the high-powered beast.

"It's pretty amazing seeing how fit and strong the guys are getting and how much they are enjoying the challenge to something quite different and putting out some serious power."

Burling, who has excelled in fleet racing with his good mate Peter Burling to absolutely dominate the 49er class, now has to hone his match-racing skills for the intense pressures that come with aggressive one-on-one racing.

As an America's Cup rookie, he will certainly be under the blowtorch from veterans like Jimmy Spithill (Oracle), Dean Barker (Team Japan) and Nathan Outteridge (Artemis Racing), especially in the starting box.

Burling said he and his Emirates Team New Zealand crew took confidence from winning a world match-racing tour event in Perth recently as they waited for their new boat to be ready.

"No one has every match-raced in anything like this before ... so quick and so manoeuvrable and there are so many options available to you. It's a full learning curve but we have a lot of experienced guys around."
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