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Even though they're much more at home on land than water, the Toyota Cowboys emerged victorious from their America's Cup-style match race against a crew of footy fans on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour today.

Racing in a yacht that the Japanese campaigned in the Louis Vuitton Cup in 1995, the Cowboys, helped along by the expertise of some professional crew members, led all the way before a spinnaker mishap almost cost them a victory on the finish line.

"They were really mowing us down at the end," Cowboys Nines skipper Gavin Cooper said.

"The boys enjoyed the experience. Everyone got a turn on steering the yacht and on the grinders.

"It gave us a good appreciation of what top-level sailing is all about even though we were a long way off that."

A big shout-out to Carmen Davidson and Micah Malaitai, who each won a double pass to the sailing event and to the weekend's tournament, thanks to Visit Auckland