A full on five days of sailing has concluded this week for Emirates Team New Zealand in Southampton.

It’s a long way from the team base in Auckland- the last place the AC45 saw the light of day after being converted from a non-foiler to its current form as a fully foiling race machine for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.

Leading the organisation in Southampton was Project Co-ordinator Richard Meacham who was pulling the strings, organising the small team to reassemble the boat back together, get it on the water and run the program for the week.

Like any boat that has undergone a refit, there are certain systems tests, trials and tweaks before being handed over to an ardent sailing team.

Step in Sailing Team Director Glenn Ashby and Helmsman Peter Burling to take control.

“It’s been a painfully long time to get back out on the water, which judging by the ferocious enthusiasm of all of the guys isn’t a bad thing.” said Ashby. 

"There is a new vibe and it feels good to be back on the water again. There is a new enthusiasm for learning and pushing hard which is absolutely key to making gains and being able to raise the bar. The mix of experience, enthusiasm and talent worked very well and it has been a really refreshing experience for all of us."

"This week we have had the opportunity to trial some new young blood in the sailing team and these young guys have absolutely relished the challenge and have been very impressive with how they have adapted to the new environment.“

"It has been extremely physically demanding, where we have pushed the sailing team on the water to the limit in the quest of what is needed to win. We have rotated through various crew positions and have come away with some fantastic knowledge of what is required to sail these boats well."

A big part of the five day program was two days locking horns with the locals Ben Ainslie Racing, raising the intensity levels on the busy Solent waters to those guaranteed at the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event in just over three weeks time.

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"It was awesome to line up against Ben and his guys,” said Ashby “This new era of America’s Cup style racing requires not only great yachting prowess but an extremely high level of fitness, strength, technique, timing and teamwork. All of which we can cover moving forwards which is very exiting for me personally and for the team as a whole. Looking forward, we have some very exiting times ahead.”

Exciting times indeed.

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