Kiwis beat Oracle in 1st 2 America's Cup races in Bermuda

Posted June 19, 2017

Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, has vowed “to come out swinging” during todays third and fourth races of the 35th Americas Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton.

The latest generation of twin-hulled America's Cup catamarans, featuring towering, 78-foot fixed-wing sails, can reach speeds of more than 50 miles per hour (80.5 km/h) as they rise above the water, virtually flying on their hydrofoils.

So far, the Kiwis and their cycling grinding system have proved too fast for Oracle in light, shifty wind.

In relatively light winds, Burling continued to sail smoothly, extending the Kiwis' advantage to a healthy margin of one minute and 52 seconds over their rivals by the fifth gate.

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. Oracle won a bonus point for winning the qualifiers, but it was actually a negative point for the Kiwis. That means they need to win eight races while Oracle needs to win seven.

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(AP Photo/Gregory Bull). Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling gestures on his way towards a sailing training session Friday, June 16, 2017, in Hamilton, Bermuda.

Race 2 is to follow.

Two poor manoeuvres reduced Emirates Team New Zealand's advantage, giving Jimmy Spithill a slight hope of catching the Kiwis in the closing stages.

Spithill thinks the splashdown was caused by a problem with one of the rudders. "We feel we have got just as much chance to win this and we're going to do everything we can".

After going into the competition one point down, the New Zealanders needed to win eight races to win the America's Cup, the world's oldest global sporting competition.

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“I think the question is, imagine if these guys lost from here, ” Spithill said, glancing at then-Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker.

"It's pretty obvious, these guys are faster and we need to make some serious changes", Spithill said.

Oracle Team USA's track record of performing when their backs are against the wall and the intervening five days should set up a fascinating showdown to the competition as both teams race to modify their boats and improve performance.

As both boats headed towards the turn the gap was down to just over three seconds, and it looked like the United States team might record their first win of the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, but it was not to be.

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