Sports

Kiwis lay down challenge in America's Cup

Kiwis lay down challenge in America's Cup

In 2013 Oracle Team USA made use of some lay days to make crucial tweaks to their boat set-up and changed some personnel, bringing in legendary British Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie as tactician.

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) - Jimmy Spithill and his mates with Oracle Team USA might need to start tapping out an SOS from the Bermuda Triangle.

Even to the untrained eye, it seemed our big cat was much the faster boat in the light, albeit tricky, winds, but Spithill claimed it was much too soon to draw conclusions on boat speed.

From 8-1 down and facing match point, Larry Ellison's defending champions won eight races in a row to triumph 9-8.

Asked if that meant Team USA might borrow some ideas from New Zealand, Spithill didn't balk.

Spithill's Oracle team now face an uphill battle to win the 35th edition of the competition, where the trophy is earned by the first team to reach seven points.

Both teams sailed well on Sunday, with fewer obvious mistakes than in Saturday's races, and the differences in performance came down to pure speed.

"The up-side, for us, is there's a lot of technology out there now", Spithill said. "It's not over. We've got five days now, very important days", Spithill said.

A win by 49 seconds in race three was bettered by a winning margin of 1min 12sec in race four as the the boat helmed by Peter Burling charged to within four wins of lifting the Auld Mug.

Four-time America's Cup victor Brad Butterworth has warned that Oracle could still quickly become competitive when the battle for the Auld Mug resumes. He's also the CEO of the America's Cup Event Authority.

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Spithill, an Australian, is trying to win his third straight America's Cup before he turns 38.

"Clearly we didn't sail our best today, but we still had opportunities and that is what we will take away with us".

Team New Zealand lead the first-to-seven series 1-0.

"We've got a couple of good starts, the boat's going really fast and the boys are doing a good job to get it around the racetrack nice and smoothly", said Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling. “We felt we really improved a lot on yesterday. We tidied up a lot of those little errors we made yesterday around the course and I think that really showed. "We know if we stand still these guys will be catching us".

But the light winds also made for very tricky conditions which produced a heart-stopping moment for the Kiwis when they ran out of breeze and sank off the foils with the finish in sight. The Kiwis used the same foils they did in speeding to two victories Saturday while the American-backed crew appeared to use two different foils.

The always-crafty Kiwis are using a "cyclor" grinding system. They've built four stationary cycling stations into each hull to tap leg power instead of traditional arm power from the grinders to power the hydraulic systems that control the wing mainsail and the daggerboards.

Race 4 was to follow.

“We were far from our best today and we ‘re obviously going to put some hours in now, have a good look through all the video all the data, sharpen up and we will come out swinging tomorrow. “I thought we were faster than yesterday but unfortunately its just not enough. "We know if we sit still they will catch us".

The Kiwis were simply imperious, once again dominating in the start box before opening unassailable leads over an impotent-looking Oracle, who have lost every leg of the Match so far.


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