March 23, 2018

America's Cup Day 1: Two Wins But Plenty to Improve

26 June 2017, 12:59 | Leigh Flowers

America's Cup Day 1: Two Wins But Plenty to Improve

Peter Burling helmsman for Emirates Team New Zealand left and teammate skipper Glenn Ashby react after winning the second race against Oracle Team USA during America's Cup match sailing competition Saturday

Emirates Team New Zealand has the edge over Oracle Team USA after winning the first two races in the America's Cup.

Spithill, the pugnacious Australian who is seeking to take Team USA to a third straight America's Cup crown in the first-to-seven match that starts on Bermuda's Great Sound on Saturday, showed his skill in the verbal pre-start on Friday as he dodged questions about reports that the defenders could be prepared to launch a second boat.

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 pedaling on bikes.

"It's not over yet, we've got five days and they're five very important days".

New Zealand continued to excel in light-wind sailing and again showed superior speed over the US boat.

"We need to go back and use those days wisely".

It's a spectacle that would be unrecognizable to America's Cup sailors of even two decades ago - and other-worldly to those of 1851, when a syndicate of NY businessmen sailed the schooner America across the Atlantic and humbled the best of the British fleet in a race around the Isle of Wight in what marked the birth of the America's Cup.

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

The teams have a five-day break before racing resumes next Saturday and Sunday.

"We sailed better today but we also made a lot of mistakes and we are a long way from where we want to be", says Burling. 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.

That's a big enough deficit against a New Zealand catamaran that has consistently out-performed Oracle.

In 2013, he helped lead one of the greatest comebacks in sports, when Oracle, down 8-1 at match point to the Kiwis, won eight straight races on San Francisco Bay to retain the oldest trophy in global sports. We know if we stand still these guys will be catching us.”.

As Spithill pointed out, Oracle have been in this position before, having been forced to play their postponement card early on in the last Cup match in San Francisco to buy themselves some time to address some deficiencies in their set-up.

Extraordinarily, when I asked him how the team out in front knew where to look for further improvement, the 26-year-old Olympic world champion and gold medallist cited his own past experience with Olympic and Team NZ sailing partner Blair Tuke.

But its 50-foot catamaran came off its foils during a bad gybe and buried its bows in the water, allowing the Kiwis to speed back ahead and open a lead of about 300 yards.

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