Thursday, 20 July, 2017

United States secure first win of America's Cup, trail NZ 4-1

The America's Cup match in Bermuda hasn't made great viewing for Oracle boss Larry Ellison MIKE SEGAR REUTERS The America's Cup match in Bermuda hasn't made great viewing for Oracle boss Larry Ellison
Vera Richards | 26 June, 2017, 02:13

The Kiwis need one more win to humble Ellison's squad and reclaim the oldest trophy in worldwide sports for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, which held it from 1995-2003.

On a much more positive note, Spithill was delighted to see his team chalk up their first point after winning an exciting sixth race, which featured multiple lead changes and more breathtaking dial-downs.

It is Burling who has been at the helm for each of the team's races in Bermuda, seemingly unflappable against far more experienced and aggressive sailors in Ben Ainslie and now Jimmy Spithill.

It seemingly doesn't matter to Spithill that Oracle merely cut Team New Zealand's lead to 4-1 in the first-to-seven regatta. When the boats crossed again, New Zealand was slightly ahead and on favored starboard tack.

The US team, backed by tech billionaire Larry Ellison, erased an 8-1 deficit four years ago to stun New Zealand 9-8 in San Francisco. That was enough to allow Burling to speed well ahead.

Races seven and eight are scheduled for Monday (NZT) where similar wind speeds of 8-10 knots are forecast.

Team USA accelerated clear off the start line to lead around mark one and two for the first time.

“It was a well-earned win and was exactly what the boys needed, ” said Spithill, the youngest skipper to win the “Auld Mug”.

While the 50-foot catamarans are "ripping" around the race course, the graceful J Class boats, which will be in Newport in August for the J Class World Championship, are also competing in Bermuda as part of the America's Cup series.

"It makes life a little easier when you get off the start 14 seconds ahead", said Burling, who some thought would struggle when matching wits with two-time Cup victor Spithill.

Burling and his crew fought hard to get back into the race and at one stage got a lead, only to be overtaken and ultimately left trailing in the wake of the USA boat as it screamed into the finish, to loud cheers from many Bermudan supporters.

"We were really happy with today's racing but we talked about how we had a lot of things we wanted to improve and today's no different".

"Jimmy was pretty close to getting us in a start like that yesterday and we felt that, if we pulled off the manoeuvre with them sitting two hulls, we had a pretty good opportunity to get the hook".

Burling forced Oracle to turn head to wind, nearly slowing Spithill to a complete stop, before the Kiwis peeled away and accelerated over the line. But it also meant Dalton was freed to a adopt a more novel approach to setting up a sailing team. "At one stage, we actually said, 'We want you to look at traversing behind the wing.' And that turned out to be probably more risky than going in front". "I honestly don't think it's the bikes", Spithill said.

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