Spithill skippers Oracle to 1st win in America's Cup

Jun 29, 2017, 15:29
Spithill skippers Oracle to 1st win in America's Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand took a commanding lead over America's Cup holders Oracle Team USA in the first of Sunday's two races, extending to 5-1 in the first-to-seven final.

Race five went to Emirates Team New Zealand, who took full advantage of mistakes made on the US boat to put themselves 4-0 up, but in race six the tables finally turned, ORACLE TEAM USA winning their first race of the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton. But things could change if New Zealand triumph as the winners decide the format of the next cup and the Kiwis are the only team not to have signed up to the deal.

Skipper Jimmy Spithill has his some of his swagger back, meaning it's game on in the America's Cup on the Great Sound.

In today's first race the critical mistake came during the pre-start, when on the final approach to the starting line Spithill - perhaps mindful of being over early during Saturday's racing - bore away briefly and opened the door for the Kiwi's to break away unchallenged.

Despite the Kiwis' dominant win, Team U.S.A. looked faster than it had when it was humbled in four races last weekend.

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Spithill's fightback in San Francisco in 2013 ranks as one of the biggest ever sporting reversals, overturning an 8-1 New Zealand lead to win the "Auld Mug" by 9-8. Clearly the plan wasn't to be in this position again, let me tell you, but we're here.

The Kiwis, who dominated as they won both of the day's races, can seal overall victory in the best-of-13 series on Monday. "We've proven we can races against these guys if we sail well but if we make too many mistakes like we did today then we won't win races". Oracle stalled, the New Zealander's bore away and easily won the start.

Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling, left, celebrates with teammate Blair Duke after defeating Oracle Team USA during the eighth race of America's Cup sailing competition Sunday, June 25, 2017, in Hamilton, Bermuda.

But although the New Zealanders got away, the US champions recovered well and fought their way back into the race, finding the speed which had evaded them in previous encounters. Near the top of the course, it was still very close, with a split at the gate and a 12-second lead to Spithill. He said those mistakes were due to a software glitch on the space-age boat.

Despite starting the series with a one-point deficit (due to U.S. victory in round-robin qualifying), New Zealand need just one more win to seal glory.

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