As Team New Zealand moves into its final preparations for the America's Cup, the focus is moving on to in-house racing and veteran campaigner Rod Davis has been used to bring some variety into the action.
Davis, who has just wound up his involvement with the Italian Prada team, is working to help prepare Dean Barker and his crew for their clash with Alinghi starting February 15.
"It is good to have Rod involved. He brings a bit more unpredictability into the mix,"
said skipper Dean Barker.
Davis is working in the afterguard with Bertrand Pacé in the intensive racing against Barker. Barker said Davis was principally working as tactician to Pacé, but would probably also helm the trial-horse boat in some of the in-house racing between NZL-81 and NZL-82.
Davis, a veteran of nine America's Cup campaigns, has been released from the Italian Prada syndicate, which has now wrapped up its development programme in Auckland. Davis was the starting helmsman on board Luna Rossa in the Louis Vuitton Cup.
"At this stage of the campaign it is great to be able to introduce a new sailing style in the final build-up to the Cup,"
Davis had a similar role in Team New Zealand's programme in San Diego in 1995. He was helmsman on board OneAustralia before being beaten by Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Cup final. He then helped prepare Russell Coutts and his crew for the 5-0 drubbing of Team Dennis Conner.
Davis, who lives in Auckland with his wife and three children, has a long and successful sailing career to call on. He has coached and sailed with America's Cup crews since 1977, when he was bowman on board American defender Enterprise.
He coached the New Zealand effort in 1988 before he was skipper of NZL-20 in San Diego in 1992.
Davis has competed at four Olympics (three of them for New Zealand), winning gold in 1984 and silver in 1992. He has eight world championship titles to his name, and was the world's No 1 matchracing skipper in 1995.