New Zealand extend lead over US in America's Cup final

Lawrence Kim
June 26, 2017

The America's Cup Match now stands at 6-1 to Emirates Team New Zealand who need only one more race to take the "Auld Mug" back to their home country.

The Kiwis lead Oracle 4-1 in the first-to-seven series.

Team New Zealand has won six races but began with a negative point because Oracle won the qualifiers.

But Spithill's been here before.

It is now Match point Emirates Team New Zealand.

New Zealand had taken a few days off after the previous races but helmsman Peter Burling defended the decision. He said the Kiwis had benefited from some "soft" calls by the umpires.

"Once again we will go away and review everything and tomorrow we will put out the boat, the configuration and the team we feel will give us the best possible chance to win some races".

"We would have to see the details. but on the basis of location its not a game changer".

"I'll do whatever is good for the team".

On leg three there was very little between the two teams but the Kiwis extended their advantage again as they headed upwind, giving themselves a 32 second lead as they headed into leg four.

Spithill became the youngest helmsman to win the America's Cup in 2010, when Oracle Team USA beat Alinghi of Switzerland.

Things started badly for the U.S. as it was a fraction of a second over the line at the start of the first race, picking up a penalty which left it trailing. He said he and tactician Tom Slingsby, a fellow Aussie, will decide if there will be any crew changes for Monday.

"We've been there before".

"We've made some pretty big steps forward, but I don't think we sailed very well today, to be honest".

Underfunded Team New Zealand nearly folded after the 2013 debacle, but has bounced back with a remarkably fast boat design that includes a radical cycling grinding system, and spot on crew maneuvers. “I think we showed today that we are a pretty tough bunch. The next time the boats came together, Team New Zealand was slightly ahead and on the favored starboard tack. We're really happy with the lead we have got and we'll come back stronger, expecting a really great battle in the coming races.

There were two quick gybes to get around the last mark - a massive ask of the grinders at the end of the second race. The Kiwis had a bad maneuver and Spithill sailed into the lead and on to victory.

The US team have made a string of changes to the boat over the past week in an effort to address a speed deficit against Team NZ.

"We always knew it would be hard if these guys sail well and we're excited about the battle ahead".

That setback was followed by a poor jibe that saw the U.S. come off their foils, ending their hopes of catching New Zealand again.

At gate four Spithill took a gamble, jibing in the run up to the next gate, but it proved to be an error and Burling took the shorter course to the gate to edge ahead of his rival.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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