Spithill, Oracle get swagger back with 1st America's Cup win

Ruben Hill
June 26, 2017

It's match point for Emirates Team New Zealand at the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda after a stunning performance against Oracle Team USA.

Jimmy Spithill trails the Kiwis 4-1 in the first-to-seven regatta but after being behind 8-1 against the same team in San Francisco in 2013 before winning the cup 9-8, he said anything was possible.

Defending champions the U.S. took their first win in race six on Saturday but were again easily distanced on Sunday. "We felt we had a great race going with the Kiwis".

“We just couldnt get the hook up after we turned up there at the start and unfortunately allowed them the hook and from then on it was very, very hard to catch up once they got their nose free, ” Spithill said.

The American's came in 30s behind the Kiwi team.

"It was five very long days but the good thing is we've been able to reward the entire shore crew with a win".

Ahead by 32 seconds through the third gate, Team NZ found a decisive puff down the right boundary of the fourth leg to further extend the margin.

Helmsman Peter Burling ensured there would be no signs of relenting after Team New Zealand moved to the cusp of securing the America's Cup on Monday (NZT).

But although the New Zealanders got away, the USA champions recovered well and fought their way back into the race, finding the speed which had evaded them in previous encounters.

"They sailed clean and smart", the 37-year-old Spithill said.

"We're really excited to go out there tomorrow and put it all on the line again".

"You wouldn't have been surprised to see a bit of a bad reaction out there today but the boys kept fighting and that's great".

For the Kiwis, skipper Glenn Ashby also had a familiar refrain: "We've been in this situation before". While their boat was clearly faster, unforced errors by the team continue to hold them back.

Team USA was clearly was faster yesterday but made mistakes, which Spithill acknowledged. And an absolutely necessary victory from the defending syndicate Oracle Team USA. "That's my attitude to it, and that's the attitude of the entire team", he said.

Oracle's quest for the "three-peat" is hanging by a thread with the defender needing to win all six remaining races to successfully defend the Cup. The changes have worked on one level, with the Oracle boat showing more pace around the race course.

The charismatic Spithill has more expertise in match racing, the sailing equivalent of a boxing contest, and the benefit of almost two decades of America's Cup experience. You saw it in the Artemis race when the Umpires admitted they made a mistake.

If he can show the same composure on Monday, the man who has become the face of the New Zealand team could win himself a place in yachting history.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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