America’s Cup 2021: Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling responds to dual helmsman rumour ahead of Cup Match

Team New Zealand’s skipper Peter Burling has hosed down suggestions that they will be copying Luna Rossa’s dual-helmsman approach in the America’s Cup match.

There has been increasing speculation since the end of the Prada Cup final that the Defenders have adjusted their set-up, particularly for the pre-starts, to counter the Italian approach, where Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni sharing the steering duties throughout a race.

But on Tuesday Burling refuted suggestions that Team NZ have made major changes to the crewing arrangement on board for the Cup match, which begins on Wednesday.

“Definitely a lot of questions have been asked about the way we sail the boat,” said Burling. “Now I can say that, you know, we’ve sailed the boat exactly the same way we have sailed it now for the last two years.

“If anyone watched the Christmas Cup, you know there’s some manoeuvres where we change sides and there is some where we don’t.

“We sail it in the same way we always have … it’s something we will continue to do it like that.”

Any significant change at this stage would be unusual, given Team New Zealand’s meticulous approach to their campaign. It would also be difficult, with the highly complex AC75 boats.

The Italians decided to go with twin helmsman more than two years ago and have spent a long time refining and perfecting the approach.

“We discussed a lot of different combinations,” Spithill told the Herald. “I was a little sceptical at first because the challenge for the two helmsmen is you only really do half the race; you only really see half the race and the other half you have your blinkers on because you are trimming the foil.

“But there are obviously some advantages in the boat on boat action. We knew there were pros and cons. We thought we would capitalise on it because we had two guys ready to roll; we said `let’s give it a try and see how it goes’.”

For Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena, it came down to a simple decision.

“We decided to not shuffle people from one side to the other,” said Sirena. “Compared to the other teams, where after every tack, gybe, they are moving three or four people, on our boat no one is moving apart from the mainsheet trimmer. That gives us [some] freedom in transitions and manoeuvres.”

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.

• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.

• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.

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