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America's Cup: Team New Zealand make winning start against Oracle Team USA

America’s Cup: Team New Zealand make winning start against Oracle Team USA

America’s Cup: Team New Zealand make winning start against Oracle Team USA

Peter Burling prevails in the start box to lead Team NZ to a 1-0 lead over Oracle in the America’s Cup final.

Team New Zealand have taken a 1-0 lead in the America’s Cup match against Oracle Team USA in emphatic fashion.

Racing in light winds on Sunday (NZ time), the Kiwis won both of the day’s races, and were largely untested throughout. That bodes well for their chances of reclaiming the Auld Mug, which they last held in 2003.

They led from start to finish both times, erasing their one-race deficit and turning it into a one-race lead in the first-to-seven series.

Team NZ lead, Oracle follow on day one of the America’s Cup.

Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill was aggressive to begin the second race, after being outfoxed in the first, but he couldn’t force Peter Burling into an error, and it was Team NZ who led at the first mark.

READ MORE:
 Recap: America’s Cup final – race day one
Team NZ lead, Burling warns ‘it will get harder’
Spithill short on words in early loss to Team NZ
 Gifford: TNZ Kiwis v ‘hired-hand’ Aussies

Once they were out in front, Team NZ could just focus on themselves and race their own race. It looked like they would have it easy for the second time in as many races, but on the upwind fifth leg, Oracle took advantage of a wind shift to close right up on them.

Team NZ just held on, however, and led at the mark, then took advantage of a poor Oracle gybe to ease away and claim the win, by 1m 28s. 

Oracle will now be searching for answers as they seek to get their first win on on the board on Monday, where there are two more races before the match takes a five-day break.

Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby said his team’s cyclors had put in a huge effort to make sure the team had the power they required.

“[The wind] was just so shifty and so puffy as we saw out there. [That meant] huge movements on both the daggerboards and the wing and the jib – you never actually ever stopped trimming something for the whole day, so those guys got an absolutely whipping today.

“We made a few mistakes around the track, obviously, and so did [Oracle]. It was one of those days where it was hard to string every single puff and every single shift together – you sort of had to let a couple go to make sure you played the longer game.”​

Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling got the better of Jimmy Spithill in the start box on day one of racing in the America’s Cup final.

Spithill said it had been a trying day.

“This [wind] direction’s pretty notorious for being very gusty, there’s some really big lulls out there, and that was obviously the case today. But it’s the same for both boats, so you’ve just go to deal with it the best you can.”

In the first race of the day, Spithill and Oracle got too close to the start line too early, and strayed over it before the clock hit zero, which earned them a penalty. Oracle had been expected to be the stronger boat in that phase of the race, so it came as quite the boost for Team NZ’s hopes.

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Oracke Team USA have some things to mull over after losing the opening two races in the America’s Cup final.

It wasn’t a great day on the water in Bermuda for Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill.

Team NZ lead Oracle Team USA around a mark in the first race of the America’s Cup final in Bermuda.

Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling was looking relaxed after defeating Jimmy Spithill and Oracle in race one of the America’s Cup final.

Blair Tuke celebrates Team NZ’s race one win over Team USA in the America’s Cup final.

ORacle Team USA cut a lonely figure as they trailed Team NZ on the first day of racing in the America’s Cup final.

Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill‘s face loomed large ahead of racing on day one of the America’s Cup final.

The grandstand in the America’s Cup village.

The America’s Cup village in Bermuda.

Serving that penalty left Oracle 13 seconds behind at the first mark, and at the end of the first downwind leg, that lead had grown to 32s.

Being so far out in front, Team NZ were able to sail their own race, and they didn’t come under any pressure. They had a slight speed advantage upwind, of around 20 knots to 18.

Spithill opted for a split at the fourth gate, as he tried to force his boat back into the contest, but couldn’t find the wind shift he needed. The lead was nearly two minutes at the fifth gate.

At the sixth gate, Team NZ made a mistake themselves, stalling as they gybed and allowing Oracle to catch up, but it was too little too late, as they won by 30s at the line. 

Because Oracle finished top of the round-robin qualifiers in the challenger series, Team NZ began the America’s Cup match on -1, while Oracle were on 0, effectively leaving the Kiwis needing to win eight races to the defender’s seven to claim the spoils.

Sunday’s results
Team NZ beat Team USA by 30s (Match tied 0-0)
Team NZ beat Team USA by 1m 28s (Team NZ lead 1-0)

Monday’s schedule
5.12am: Race three
5.57am: Race four

 – Stuff

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