Sunday, 25 June, 2017

Sailing-New Zealand pile pressure on U.S. in America's Cup final

How technology helped America's Cup hit mainstream Clive Mason Getty Images
Nathaniel Diaz | 19 June, 2017, 00:42

Both cartoons were drawn by San Francisco artist Elena Achilli, the first one apparently after Spithill skippered Oracle Team USA to one of the greatest comebacks in sports by winning eight straight races after being down 8-1 in 2013 on San Francisco Bay to retain the oldest trophy in worldwide sports.

One of the more intriguing matchups, besides how the teams' 50-foot, foiling catamarans compare and how well the crews sail them, is how Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling, a 26-year-old America's Cup rookie, holds up against Spithill.

But the Kiwis later came off their foils during a hard maneuver and slowed dramatically in light, shifty wind, losing half their lead.

The match is now even at 0-0. That means they need to win eight races to spirit the Auld Mug back to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, where it resided from 1995 until 2003.

Earlier, Team NZ extended their lead over Oracle Team USA with their third straight win in the day's opening race. The American-backed crew benefited from a wind shift sailing upwind on leg five in Race 2 and made up a huge deficit, pulling right behind the Kiwis sailing through the gate mark.

The New Zealand team are a fast, well-oiled machine with their aerodynamic pod of four "cyclor" sailors, who supply the energy needed to power the boat's massive wing sail by pedalling on bikes.

"I'm expecting it's going to be one hell of a fight", Spithill said in a skippers press conference on Friday.

“We were far from our best today and we ‘re obviously going to put some hours in now, have a good look through all the video all the data, sharpen up and we will come out swinging tomorrow.

However, a five-day break until race five and six on Sunday (NZT) will allow Team USA to make changes to its teetering defence.

As both boats headed towards the turn the gap was down to just over three seconds, and it looked like the USA team might record their first win of the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, but it was not to be.

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.

The last meeting between these teams in the America's Cup Match saw Spithill and his team complete one of the most remarkable comebacks in sporting history to win the 34th America's Cup in September 2013.

Team NZ comfortably beat Oracle Team USA twice this morning and are one up in the series. "I thought we were faster than yesterday but unfortunately it's just not enough".

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