Sunday, 21 January, 2018

New Zealand wins 5th straight vs Oracle in America's Cup

Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling is a graduate of the Youth America's Cup Clive Mason Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling is a graduate of the Youth America's Cup
Melinda Barton | 29 June, 2017, 09:03

"We are not taking anything for granted", New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said on Sunday after coolly steering his space-age 50-foot (15 metre) catamaran to yet another win over the team's nemesis, Oracle Team USA's skipper Jimmy Spithill. In fact, Emirates Team New Zealand needed two penalty calls to go against Spithill to take the win in the first race of the day.

Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill isn't helping his cause with mistakes.

Burling, a 26-year-old Olympic gold medalist in 2016, was cool and composed as he "luffed" and trapped the more experienced match-racing specialist Spithill in the "pre-start" of the day's second race, forcing the USA boat to a standstill.

Leading at the first mark, New Zealand were never really threatened en route to a 12-second win.

In this photo provided by America's Cup Event Authority, Oracle Team USA competes in the America's Cup sailing competition, in the Great Sound of Bermuda, Saturday, June 24, 2017.

"They didn't have many chances to get back in the race", Burling said from on board his catamaran at the finish.

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.

"This is clearly a time where you see a team potentially split apart", Spithill said. The Kiwis would regain the lead, but Spithill came out better in two close passes on the fifth leg to gain an advantage he wouldn't surrender.

"I don't think we sailed that well today, to be honest but we're really happy with the lead we've got", he said.

"It does remind me of San Francisco when, once the guys can see that the boat is faster, then you start building some momentum".

After five days with no racing, both crews have been working to improve the performance of their space-age catamarans, with the pressure on the U.S. crew and their extensive design and technical team to pull something out of the hat. When the boats crossed again, New Zealand was slightly ahead and on favored starboard tack.

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

"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. Spithill followed through the gate, six-seconds behind, and the New Zealanders took up a controlling position, covering the American boat upwind. ORACLE TEAM USA is back on track.