America's Cup reaches crossroads as Kiwis near win

  • America's Cup reaches crossroads as Kiwis near win

America's Cup reaches crossroads as Kiwis near win

Those were the words of Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill after his team claimed their first win of the America's Cup match.

The New Zealand team started the competition with a negative point as United States of America won the qualifiers but that didn't prove to be any kind of disadvantage to the ambitions Kiwis team who cleared the first mark in the second game itself.

In the finale of the 2017 youth event, the New Zealand crew needed to finish three places above the British in the last race to retain the trophy.

Five days of development this week appeared to initially amount to little as Team NZ sailed clear in race five on Sunday (NZT).

That could all change if the US holders are able to turn around a 3-0 Kiwi lead in the first-to-seven competition on Bermuda's Great Sound when racing resumes this weekend.

Spithill said Oracle had seen the Kiwis taking a few days off during the week while the Oracle boys sailed every day - Spithill injured his right wrist when he took a tumble on board Friday - and their shore team worked long hours at night.

Until the sixth race, the powerhouse American squad, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison and crewed mostly by Australians, had been humbled by the underfunded but crafty Kiwis and their fast 50-foot, foiling catamaran helmed by 26-year-old America's Cup rookie Peter Burling.

America's Cup reaches crossroads as Kiwis near win
America's Cup reaches crossroads as Kiwis near win

"We love blasting so we couldn't resist the temptation [to get on the foils]", Dunning Beck said. "I just put the bows in and gave it a good send".

Day three of the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, was full of drama, with the big story of the day the fightback Oracle Team USA staged against their rivals for the Auld Mug, Emirates Team New Zealand.

Earlier Emirates Team New Zealand beat Oracle Team USA by over two minutes in race five of the America's Cup.

He closed the gap and crossed just ahead of the Kiwis on the third leg.

"You've got a young vigorous team in New Zealand, a bunch of young guys who I think have choreographed the handling of that boat beautifully and they work really efficiently together", he said.

Spithill was widely reckoned to have the advantage over young Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling, a seven-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist in the 49er class in Rio past year who despite his credentials came in with far less match racing experience. Spithill dipped underneath. Both boats pushed the protest button, and the umpires decided Spithill didn't give Burling enough room.

At one stage comeback specialist Spithill managed to get a lead over Burling, but he was out-duelled and infringed the Kiwi "cat", incurring another penalty and allowing them to fly into the line on their space-age catamaran in front of a packed grandstand in Bermuda's purpose-built America's Cup Village.