New Zealand beats Oracle in America's Cup opener in Bermuda

26 June, 2017, 01:00 | Author: Lorraine Moran
  • Larry Ellison center co-founder of Oracle Corporation looks on as Oracle Team USA races Emirates Team New Zealand in America's Cup sailing competition Saturday

Skipper Jimmy Spithill says the five days until America's Cup racing resumes will be "the most important days of the campaign" for a Team USA left reeling by New Zealand after one weekend.

Defending champions the US began the best-of-13 series with a one-point advantage after winning the earlier qualifying regatta, which was erased by New Zealand's race-one win. "But we're also a very candid group and it's quite clear we need to make changes".

In light easterly winds, the New Zealand team's foils, which lift the boat out of the water at speed, appeared to be more efficient, consolidating the Kiwis' reputation as light wind specialists.

"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.

"I don't know what you're talking about", Spithill said, all mock innocence when asked about New Zealand media reports that two bow sections had been seen being carried from the Americans' base to that of SoftBank Team Japan, the vanquished would-be challenger with whom the US have had a close working relationship.

Oracle came in with a 10-race winning streak against Team New Zealand, including eight at the end of the 2013 regatta and two in the round-robins this year.

Emirates Team New Zealand rounds the top mark ahead of Oracle Team USA in race four on day two of the America's Cup.

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Well-funded Team USA - Ellison is worth an estimated $US55 billion - has five days to come up with some answers to try to counter the spot-on design innovations by the Kiwis, who almost folded after their epic collapse in the 2013 America's Cup on San Francisco Bay.

Team New Zealand emerged battle-hardened from its challenger final win over Artemis and still had days to fine-tune the boat.

As Spithill pointed out, Oracle have been in this position before, having been forced to play their postponement card early on in the last Cup match in San Francisco to buy themselves some time to address some deficiencies in their set-up.

"We're under no illusions", helsman Peter Burling, 26, said.

"Today I thought we got off the line pretty well, but they were pretty impressive accelerating".

Further along the narrow hull of the catamaran is Blair Tuke, Burling's Olympic partner in the 49er skiff, who both cycles and adjusts the rake of the foils which allow the boat to lift out of the water and "fly". Coutts successfully defended the Americas Cup in 2000 before jumping to Swiss startup syndicate Alinghi of Switzerland and sweeping his former team in 2003.

As much as Oracle simply sailed its catamaran better as the comeback progressed, there was a defining moment at a news conference. We're just trying to keep learning and keep improving.

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