Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli co-helmsman Francesco Bruni has questioned the experience of Emirates Team NZ skipper Peter Burling, heading into their upcoming America's Cup showdown.
While Bruni admits that Olympic and world champion Burling - twice named World Sailor of the Year - is a "crazy talent", he's confident he and cohort Jimmy Spithill have at least one edge over the Kiwi helmsman.
"Burling is a crazy talent, he has won everything," Bruni has told Italian yachting site Vela .
"He is young, but I hope he lacks the experience that Jimmy and I have instead. We have been sailing for many years, having done more races than can be counted."
The hosts will go into the regatta as favourites, after their strong showing against the Italians during the warm-up regattas over Christmas.
While Luna Rossa battled INEOS Team UK to a 7-1 victory in the challengers series, Team NZ were steadily making adjustments to their AC75 Te Rehutai, including a 'batwing' mainsail that reportedly drastically minimises drag.
Rumours from around the waterfront suggest Team NZ have since hit another gear on the water, reaching speeds of 60 knots during training, but Bruni dismisses any concerns about matching the Kiwi's pace.
"I don't know, but I don't care much," Bruni tells Vela. "Top speed can be a problem at low speeds."
"For some months, they have certainly had smaller foils with large flaps... a combination that gives good control of the height of the flight, but can become difficult in cases of little wind.
"Then there is the aerodynamic part that only they have, with a hollowed cockpit. I feel very safe, if the boats go at the same speed."
No further changes can be made to either boat before racing begins, after going through a final official measuring process on Monday.
Teams are able to train under Auckland's COVID-19 Alert Level 3 until the expected start date of March 10, which is the earliest the regatta can now start. The competition was originally scheduled to start this weekend.
Bruni shrugs off the delay caused by Auckland's recent mini-outbreak, saying his team have used the extra preparation time wisely.
"It doesn't change much," Bruni notes. "It's just four more days, after three years of work.
"We are working on new sails that have arrived from Italy. The guys in the sail loft are very busy.
"There are also the foils... no revolution, only small improvements.
"That’s also what's happening with the aerodynamics - small improvements - because changing a lot a few days before the final can be risky."
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