New Zealand beats Oracle in America's Cup opener in Bermuda

Although they've won the first four races, the Kiwis lead Oracle 3-0.

However, there was to be no late drama, as Burling's team crossed the finish line 30 seconds ahead of Spithill's ORACLE TEAM USA, wiping out the minus one point deficit to the Defenders and levelling the overall scores to 0-0 ahead of race two.

New Zealand are closing in on winning the America's Cup, having claimed four of the eight races they need to recapture the world's oldest global sporting competition.

Spithill's Oracle team now face an uphill battle to win the 35th edition of the competition, where the trophy is earned by the first team to reach seven points.

"We're under no illusions", helsman Peter Burling, 26, said.

"I think it's pretty obvious these guys are faster and we need to make some serious changes", a glum-looking Spithill said.


The most pleasing aspect for the Kiwis was the speed of their boat in the light conditions of seven to ten knots, Aotearoa New Zealand consistently quicker than the Americans.

After all, the 2013 America's Cup proved that no lead is safe.

But Emirates Team New Zealand was able to live with Oracle Team USA, and after both boats flew to mark 1 nearly level the Kiwi yacht found a click more pace to take the lead.

Still, this isn't the start the powerhouse Oracle squad expected. Spithill said, glancing at Barker. But we had our opportunities.

“Today we sailed a fair bit better than yesterday, but we also made a lot of mistakes and feel were a bit away from where we could be.” Burling added.

For race two Emirates Team New Zealand again led around mark one. Coutts successfully defended the Americas Cup in 2000 before jumping to Swiss startup syndicate Alinghi of Switzerland and sweeping his former team in 2003.


“The motivation is always there, ” said Spithill, who is trying to win the Americas Cup for the third straight time before he turns 38.

Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby said while the crew would like be back in the water tomorrow keeping the momentum up, they had targeted these next five days in the schedule for upgrades to the boat and finetuning work. With the "conventional" setup the majority of the sailing skill falls on the shoulders of Jimmy Spithill and it is quite possibly too much for one man to do, whatever their credentials.

"Clearly we weren't sailing at our best".

Ainslie mounted a British bid for the Cup this year that ended in the challenger semi-finals, but Spithill indicated a crew change could again be up for discussion. Olympic rowing champion Joe Sullivan replaced him for Race 4.

The Kiwis snapped a 10-race losing streak to Oracle, including eight at the end of the 2013 regatta and two in the round-robins this year.



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