America's Cup 2021: Emirates Team NZ ready for anything Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli can throw at them

Emirates Team NZ have issued a not-so-subtle reminder that to win the America’s Cup, you must still go through them. 

Within minutes of winning the Prada Cup challengers series, rivals Luna Rossa Prada Pirellia were in no doubt what's waiting for them. 

"Man these Kiwis are going to be tough, but that's the great thing about sport," says helmsman Jimmy Spithill. "You know, if it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing."

The Italians have one major advantage - they're match fit.

"Nothing can replicate real hard racing and that's what both of these teams here in the final series have seen," says Spithill. "That's really where your learnings come from." 

But his Kiwi counterpart is not taking the bait.

"Not being match fit does get outweighed by the ability that you don't have to be match legal," grins Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling. 

"You can keep developing and pushing the boat and we've got a whole heap of new components on Te Rehutai to make it quicker." 

Team NZ have made significant changes since their last race in December. They've introduced a new sail many are calling the 'Batwing' for its pointed tips - noticeably narrower at the top and producing less drag in high winds.

"In these campaigns, you've got to try everything," says Burling. "It's something we really feel like it could make life a lot easier in the extreme wind range."  

Hopefully their latest set of foils will work just as well at the other end of the wind range. 

"Right from day one, Team NZ's foils have been vastly different than the other three teams," says America’s Cup commentator Mark Orams. "To me, they just look slim, slender, low drag and fast." 

While defeated INEOS Team UK skipper Ben Ainslie won’t be drawn on who will come out on top, he says the Kiwis have one major advantage.. 

"We know how good the Kiwis are," he says. "I always say, it's a bit like taking on the All Blacks at Eden Park round here in the Hauraki Gulf." 

So while they might not have raced in two months, the Kiwis have hardly been standing still either. 

Join us from March 6 for live updates of the America's Cup series between Team NZ and Luna Rossa