US secure first win of America's Cup, trail New Zealand 4-1

Posted June 25, 2017

Emirates Team New Zealand turned up the heat on America's Cup holders Oracle Team USA on Saturday, taking a 4-0 lead in the first-to-seven final in the first race of the day.

But defending champions the U.S. replied with their first win of the best-of-13 series in race six in Bermuda. Emirates Team New Zealand faces Oracle Team USA in more America's Cup sailing competition this weekend.

The arch-rivals are due to resume battle on Bermuda's Great Sound on Sunday, with another two races scheduled.

"The closing speed on these boats was over 50 knots and we had to avoid really early", Burling said.

America's Cup racing is fast, furious and unsafe.

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Both teams were out practising on the water on Thursday, preparing for racing to restart on Saturday.

However, they were penalised again during a tacking duel, deemed to have not given enough room to Team NZ when the boats crossed.

"We know we can do this", Spithill said.

At one stage comeback specialist Spithill managed to get a lead over Burling, but he was out-duelled and infringed the Kiwi "cat", incurring another penalty and allowing them to fly into the line on their space-age catamaran in front of a packed grandstand in Bermuda's purpose-built America's Cup Village. We had one in the first race in the qualifiers against us, they should've got one at the top mark and the umpires admitted that.

But none of this seems to have rattled the low-key Burling, despite a capsize in a semi-final race which almost ended the Kiwi dream of avenging the 2013 defeat that still haunts New Zealand.

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Not only did Oracle make its 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.

"Today was really just the boys polishing up on sailing the boat accurately and manoeuvres", Jones told the New Zealand Herald's Dana Johannsen in Bermuda. "I just put the bows in and gave it a good send". There are plenty who will tell you that Team NZ overdid the sponsor fulfillment programme to their detriment. Sailing Illustrated reported that Team NZ were getting a strong turn-out of "rabid, flag-waving fans (including many locals) for the race-day dock-out shows, while the number of Oracle supporters was embarrassingly small".

“I think they said, ‘Ah, we heard rumors that youve been testing but we never thought youd actually bloody do it, “ van Velthooven said.

"We worked very very hard those five days and we sailed probably five times as much as the other guys and did a lot of work on the shore and I'd just like to see the boat go quicker", Spithill said, adding that they would be doing more overnight. The whisper is Peter Burling and Blair Tuke convinced team leadership to take a page out of their Olympic playbook and minimise distractions.

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