America's Cup 2021: Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling confident in his experience to keep Auld Mug in New Zealand

  • 05/03/2021

Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling doesn't believe his lack of America's Cup experience will be a telling factor in the outcome of the race.  

The Kiwis will face Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the best-of-13-race series for the 'Auld Mug', likely to start next week, depending on COVID-19 alert levels. 

Earlier this week, Luna Rossa co-helmsman Francesco Bruni questioned Burling's experience heading into the big showdown, but the New Zealander isn't worried at all and feels he has enough know-how in different types of sailing. 

"Well, I definitely don't have as much experience as Bruni and Jimmy Spithill, mainly because I'm not as old as them," Burling says. "I've done a whole heap of competing and I enjoy competing on the big stage. 

"I feel I have a lot of experience with that, whether that's through the Olympic environment or the America's Cup environment, when we were in Bermuda. 

"On the experience thing, no-one has really raced an AC75 before at this kind of level, so it's something everyone is going to be learning as we go and I'm pretty good at learning fast."

One thing the America's Cup challenger series showed was how critically important boat speed was and the Kiwis feel confident in the speed Te Rehutai has.

"Like any America's Cup race, boat speed is the biggest factor," Burling has told the AM Show. "Effectively, if you don't have enough speed, you're not really in the race, whether you get off the start-line or doing everything incredibly well. 

"A lot of our effort will go into making sure we have a fast enough boat, but then it goes back to making sure you get a good enough start or at least an even start, and you're really strong around the corners. 

"There are so many things that can trip you up in these events, so we are trying to make sure we've ticked everything off, so we're strong across the board."

Burling isn't getting drawn into whether his side are favourites or how they shape up against the Italians, with their last competitive meeting ago.

"I think anyone that speculates on who's going quicker or slower, or who's better in what manoeuvre is really just speculating," Burling says.

"We need to get that first race under our belt to really tell, but we're really happy with how the development has gone over the last few weeks and made some good steps forward, particularly in the corners. 

The war of words between the two syndicates is just heating up, and while the cool, calm Kiwi is keeping his distance for now, he knows he'll have to eventually get involved.

"We'll have to wait and see," he says. "Me, like the rest of the team like to do our talking on the water and we're hoping we are able to do that over the next few weeks. 

"I'm sure the traditional war of words will start at some stage, but it's not something we let affect what we do on the water."

Join us for live updates of the America's Cup race between Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa.