(Reuters) - Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena is hoping indications that America's Cup holders Team New Zealand are trialling the twin-helmsman system used on his boat might give the challengers an edge when racing gets started next week.
The Italian team used the innovative system to great effect throughout the Prada Cup challenge series in Auckland with Australian Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni sharing the helming duties on either side of the boat.
Team New Zealand were expected to go with the more traditional system where skipper Peter Burling works the wheel on both sides, but Sirena suggested the hosts had been experimenting with the dual role.
"Today, we watched them as they trained making starts and, at least in the starting phase, Peter Burling no longer goes from one side to the other," Sirena told Sky Sports Italy after training on Tuesday.
"It is clear that having a double helmsman, especially in the starting phase, has great advantages because there is not that period of time in which the boat can be less under control when the helmsman goes from one side to the other.
"I hope they also do it in racing because it would give us an advantage, it is not something that comes immediately."
The start of the 36th contest for the oldest trophy in international sport, which was scheduled for Saturday, has been delayed until next Wednesday at the earliest by a seven-day coronavirus lockdown in Auckland.
Sirena said the challengers had also been experimenting with a few ideas in training runs on the Hauraki Gulf ahead of the best-of-13 race match.
Despite the postponement of the first weekend of races, both teams were obliged to define and finalise the configuration of their boats for the match on Monday.
"We will have to wait a few more days to race but we are both ready," Sirena added.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; editing by Stephen Coates)