The New Zealand team appears to be trialling a new set-up on their AC75 ship, as their preparations for the Copa America match increase.
The Kiwis have enjoyed extra time for training and experimenting since the completion of the World Series regatta in December, and won’t be needed in competitive waters for another two and a half weeks.
The New Zealand team will be overseeing the Prada Cup final series to see which of Luna Rossa and Team Ineos England will advance to face them for the Auld Mug.
But the extra time defenders have to put in to repair their boat appears to have been well spent, with one eye witness believing Te Rehutai’s design was different when he saw the ship in the water today.
“[They’re] piloting the American Magic type main screen against strong winds. They have to see some value in testing this, “a source told the Herald.
“The concept made sense. At that time 15 knots plus, the extra sailing area upwards just pulled and slowed the cruise ship down against the wind. So [it’s] a good choice to have when it is windy conditions. “
Several other sources confirmed to the Herald that Team NZ’s new screen design – dubbed the “batwing main” because of its resemblance to comic book superhero craft – had never been seen before.
Kiwis were seen this afternoon, parked not far from Motuihe Island and surrounded by chase boats, with a crew member at the end of one foil in the water, and the other on a nearby deck.
At one stage, a crew member is seen climbing onto a mast to retract the sail.
It has been reported that Te Rehutai has reached speeds never seen before while training in Hauraki Bay.
Italy looks to be the more likely opponent in the Copa America clash, leading the Prada Cup final 4-0 and needing three more wins to progress.
Cup matches begin on March 6.
The NZ team did not respond to a request for comment.