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Team NZ driven by pride: Burling

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017

Forget about redemption, Team New Zealand's campaign to reclaim the America's Cup in Bermuda will be fuelled by a sense of national pride.

That's the view of new helmsman Peter Burling, the brilliant Olympic class sailor who replaces Dean Barker for their latest tilt at the "Auld Mug", which they last owned a decade ago.

Heading into the start of the challenger series this weekend, Burling said the dramatic nature of their failed campaign in 2013 isn't being referenced.

A broom has gone through the personnel, both on and off the water, who took Team NZ to a sensational Cup Match off San Francisco in 2013.

Trailing 8-1, defenders Team USA somehow conjured a 9-8 win, capturing global headlines for their comeback.

It left a distraught Kiwi syndicate and bemused public wondering if all the time and expense was worth it for another tilt.

Burling was signed soon after Team NZ decided to clamber off the canvas and take their place among five challengers.

While many syndicates are comprised of a potpourri of international sailors and ground crew, Burling takes delight at what is his team's nearly all-Kiwi challenge in Bermuda.

Their design and testing also took place mostly in Auckland.

"It makes us proud to be from New Zealand, I love representing the country," Burling said.

"That great pride drives us to push forward and make our boat faster and even more determined, when we are in tough times, to pull ahead.

"I don't think the other teams here have that support from home."

One exception to the Kiwi hegemony is Australian skipper Glenn Ashby, who has sensed excitement in the Team NZ shed this week.

There is quiet confidence their AC50 catamaran has the speed to match the other state-of-the-art boats but they won't know for sure until racing commences.

"This is the moment we have all been waiting for," Ashby said.

"It really is hard to reconcile everything we have been through as a team since San Francisco. We've had so many ups and downs, but everything that has happened has really made this team such a strong and unified group over that time."

Asbhy said one lesson from San Francisco is the importance of improving throughout the month-long regatta.

Team USA did that and the Kiwis didn't, which explained the fateful late reversal of results.

For now, they could have done little more to be ready, Ashby said.

"What we have achieved in the time and with the resource we have is unreal, especially when you compare to some of the other teams that have been on the water for over a year longer.

"We know we are in the game."

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