Oracle pick up first win of America's Cup

Cheryl Sanders
June 25, 2017

However, there is no question that the boat has become more hard to handle and Jones says the jury is out if Oracle can maintain their progress in lighter conditions, which are forecast for Sunday's (Monday NZ time) races.

While they focus on another comeback, New Zealand is keen to reproduce the outcome of 1995, when Russell Coutts skippered Black Magic to a five-race sweep of Dennis Conner's Young America in San Diego.

Two former America's Cup winners, John Bertrand of Australia and Bertarelli, have been in Bermuda in recent days and could return to the event if the Kiwis win. "We always knew it was going to be hard if these guys (Team USA) sail well and we're just excited about the battle ahead", he said.

Reflecting further on his team's vast improvement and the importance of ORACLE TEAM USA cutting the overall deficit to Emirates Team New Zealand, Spithill added, "We all saw that the boat is faster, obviously we are not sailing as well as we should do, but the important thing is that the boat is faster". The break is a massive opportunity for us as a team to go away and regroup.

"Now we've got confidence", the 37-year-old Spithill said. The most important thing I remember from San Francisco was getting a win on the board.

"That's why today was very, very important".

"I still see myself as steering the boat".

Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said he welcomed the challenge.

"We're set up for a battle". "We were really pleased with the way the boys fought back in that second race".

"We didn't sail particularly well today but it was great to walk away with another win".

"They've made this great little boat quicker".

"All of our onboard gear had us behind the line at the start but it was wrong", bemoaned Spithill of the early penalty.

"We will learn from that", says Tuke.

And so it proved with Oracle winning the start for the first time in the match.

Burling's admission it was Team New Zealand's mistakes that saw them drop their first race of the finals, comes at a time when the two sides are almost evenly matched.

Oracle's boat builders have conceded the Kiwis have a better boat and are likely to win the America's Cup.

Although New Zealand got away off the start after the US crew were penalised for being over the line, the defenders got back into the race and at one stage were leading, more than matching their opponents for speed.

After claiming the lead by a narrow margin, Team USA were penalised again during the third leg for not giving way to Team New Zealand.

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.

Little separated the boats for the remainder but victory was effectively sealed when Spithill made gains late on leg five upwind and shot sufficiently clear downwind.

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