America's Cup: Team NZ won't be taking things for granted


Burling kept his composure, rounding the fifth gate with his 49 second advantage intact, and from that point there was no looking back Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the finish line almost a minute ahead of the U.S. team and Burling claimed his third victory on the trot in the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton. That means they need to win eight races total to spirit the Auld Mug back to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, where it resided from 1995 until 2003. Jimmy Spithill's Oracle team now face an uphill battle to win the competition, where the trophy is earned by the team that wins seven races.

“Today was a really good day for us, ” Burling said.

“It was obviously a tough day, ” Spithill said yesterday. "All the people in the shed back at the base are already going over the boat and trying to get little bits of speed to start throwing at these guys".

Despite relinquishing the point advantage they held at the beginning of the day, ORACLE TEAM USA helmsman Jimmy Spithill is refusing to panic, especially with the experience of overturning an 8-1 deficit to the same opposition in 2013.

Team New Zealand has dominated the opening salvo, winning both races Saturday and Sunday by significant margins through a combination of better starts, slicker crew work, fewer mistakes and a lightning-fast boat, aided to some extent by the "cyclors" or leg grinders in place of traditional arm-powered winches to better power the hydraulic systems.

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, June 17, 2017, in the Great Sound of Bermuda.

Burling and Spithill were locked in a colossal game of chicken, with the two boats close enough for the pair to shake hands at one point, with Team New Zealand edging it.

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Having strolled to a comfortable win by 49 seconds in the first race of the day, and the third of the finals series, Peter Burling and Team New Zealand knew they could twist the knife with another win to take a 3-0 lead - and they did just that.

Both teams essentially had faultless races, but the superior boat speed of Emirates Team New Zealand proved the deciding factor, the Kiwis pulling away throughout the race to build a lead of 500 metres heading towards the fifth gate.

Still, this isn't the start the powerhouse Oracle squad expected.

"There's a long, long way to go in this regatta and, as we saw last time in San Francisco, things can change very quickly", said Macbeth, whose team lost to New Zealand in an earlier round. "Clearly we weren't sailing at our best".

New Zealand, which beat Artemis in the challenger final, has fought back formidably since capsizing against the British team in the round-robin phase. He has won Olympic gold and silver medals with grinder Blair Tuke.

Trailing the Kiwi boat, Spithill went for the split at the gate as he chased hard in pursuit of Burling, victor of the Red Bull Youth America's Cup in 2013.