Murray Jones, the Emirates Team New Zealand performance coach, says the Kiwis have an “inherent advantage” that poses a serious threat to Oracle Team USA’s title defence. Jones believes the challenger has the edge in terms of technology and boat-handling, which, in turn, has again left Oracle playing catch-up in their bid for a third straight Cup triumph.
“I just think we have some inherent advantages the way we are sailing our boat and that’s not going to change over this week and weekend,” Jones said.
“The way we have set up our boat is a little better than they have, with the way Pete [helmsman Peter Burling], Glenn [skipper and wing trimmer Glenn Ashby], Blair [tactician Blair Tuke] and Andy [‘cyclor’ Andy Maloney] sort of work with different responsibilities.
“With Oracle, they have Jimmy [Spithill] trying to fly the boat and steering, and then you have Slingsby [tactician Tom Slingsby] doing the tactics, which is a little bit of a compromise role because he is sort of all over the place doing grinding, pedalling and sometimes at the front of the boat and back. It’s just not so easy as the relationship that Glenn and Pete have sitting side-by-side. They have more time to look around and assess things in a more calm way.
“We are quietly confident that we will just be able to continue the way we have been sailing and, hopefully, they will continue making some mistakes and we can win four races. That’s what we are trying to do.”
Jones cited the radical pedal grinders that generate the power for the boat’s various systems among the primary weapons in the Kiwis’ arsenal.
“The pedal grinders help us a lot,” he said. “We can generate more power and that gives us some advantages in being able to sail the boat more precisely.”
As for the upgrades Oracle have made to their boat during a five-day layoff, Jones said: “They were in a situation where they had to make changes for sure; they were slightly slower than us.
“But I don’t expect them to look like a different team. They have been sailing like this for months and years, really, so I can’t see them making any major changes this week.
“They have been playing around with several different things with the rudders, elevators and also their boards. They have been doing a lot of work changing a few things closer to probably how we sail the boat and experimenting, so I would expect them to sort of lock in and get used to sailing the boat again and in a slightly different configuration.
“They looked worse than it actually was. I don’t think they were sailing very well and so it made it look like they were a lot slower than they actually were. But they would have made some changes this week for sure.”