Burling, Team New Zealand reach match point in America's Cup

Ebony Scott
June 26, 2017

Much has been made of the changes Oracle has purportedly made to its daggerboards and rudders - the rumor mill has it the team has shaved 100 kilograms of weight from the boat in an effort to get quicker - but skipper Jimmy Spithill and his crew have continued to suffer the consequences of unforced errors on the racecourse.

Team New Zealand first won the America's Cup in 1995 when Coutts - now the CEO of Oracle Team USA - skippered a five-race sweep of Conner off San Diego.

Because Oracle won the qualifiers, the Kiwis started this America's Cup final on the Great Sound with a negative point.

Races seven and eight were scheduled for Sunday night (AEST).

Spithill has been here before.

But the improvement in the US boat, and tough talk from Spithill, can't help but remind the Kiwis of their crushing defeat in 2013, when they led 8-1 in San Francisco only for Team USA to roar back to a 9-8 triumph and retain yachting's most coveted prize.

Spithill said his team had seen the Kiwis taking a few days off during the week while Team USA sailed every day.

Not only did Team USA make their boat faster during a five-day break in racing, but Spithill, who was a pretty fair boxer during his youth in Australia, regained his edge as a master at mind games.

"Now we've got confidence", the 37-year-old Spithill said. "We both rely on pretty sophisticated software at times and in these boats you get one knot of difference and it changes everything". “So that was important to get that win today.”.

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But although the New Zealanders got away, the USA champions recovered well and fought their way back into the race, finding the speed which had evaded them in previous encounters.

However, ORACLE TEAM USA's new-found speed paid dividends on leg 5/7 as they cut the gap to their rivals and engaged in close-quarter racing.

Burling nailed two sharp starts, narrowly edging the Americans on the start line in race seven and going on to seal a tense 12sec win.

"These guys sailed better".

"We thought we would be able to pull a manoeuvre off but clearly we couldn't, it was a big mistake", admitted Spithill on the poor pre-start. On leg three there was very little between the two teams but the Kiwis extended their advantage again as they headed upwind, giving themselves a 32 second lead as they headed into leg four.

June 25: After facing new life from the America's Cup defender yesterday, the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand counter-punched today, winning both races in convincing fashion. That was enough to allow Burling to speed well ahead.

Even with the wide margin in Race 5, Oracle Team USA looked faster than it did in getting humbled in four races last weekend.

"We all saw today that the boat was faster", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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