The Kiwis are the first international America’s Cup team to arrive in Portsmouth ahead of next month’s racing

Emirates Team New Zealand are the first international America’s Cup team to set sail on the Solent in preparation for next month’s World Series event in Portsmouth.

The challengers who came so close to overhauling the defenders Oracle Team USA in 2013, took to the water in their foiling AC45 catamaran this week, lining up against home contenders Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing.

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Under the leadership of sailing director Glenn Ashby, the visiting sailors included 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 Emirates Team New Zealand to trial different crew members in different roles.

“It was great to be back on the water and just shake the boat down and make sure everything was working,” commented Ashby. “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.”

Emirates Team New Zealand and BAR

“The Solent’s an interesting place. I think the tide and the currents are probably the thing that’s most interesting thing here. Guys like Ray [Davies] have spent a lot of time on the Solent before; so have got quite a lot of experience in that. I think where we’re going to be racing, off Portsmouth, will be a great venue. We’re really looking forward to it,” Ashby added.

While Land Rover BAR have been training hard out of their home base on Portsmouth’s Camber, Ashby 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-focused when it’s happening, it’s almost gust by gust, shift by shift. Anything could happen,” he said.