America's Cup: Halftime is Over

In his most aggressive move of the Match so far Burling took the fight directly to Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill.

Emirates Team New Zealand capitalized on the break to maintain modest leads around the first two marks of the 7-leg race.

Team New Zealand has won five races but began with a negative point because Oracle won the qualifiers.

The Kiwis started the first-to-seven points series with a one-point deficit but were left needing just two more wins to wrest the Cup from the United States of America, with one more race scheduled for Sunday.

Even after losing two races on Sunday, Spithill was not in any mood to give up, conceding that the USA crew had been outsailed by Burling and his five Kiwi team mates, but vowing to come out fighting again on Monday and take one race at a time.

Until the sixth race, the powerhouse American squad, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison and crewed mostly by Australians, had been humbled by the underfunded but crafty Kiwis and their fast 50-foot, foiling catamaran helmed by 26-year-old America's Cup rookie Peter Burling.

Spithill has been here before. The Kiwis now need only one more victory to bring the Cup home to Auckland for the first time since 2003, when they lost the trophy to an Alinghi team skippered by countryman Russell Coutts, the driving force behind both this year's Cup match and Oracle Team USA.

Spithill said there was a quick crew meeting after Race 8 and he was pleased that the sailors kept their composure.

"We're just going to keep pushing forward", Burling said. "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". "Nothing changes for us".

The America's Cup, the oldest competition in global sport, was first raced in 1851 around the Isle of Wight and has only been won by four nations.

"It's no secret we've faced a lot of adversity to get here, we capsized our boat under three weeks ago and we're still just getting on top of everything".

"We said last night we had a fair few things to work on and we addressed them today", said Burling. While their boat was clearly faster, unforced errors by the team continue to hold them back.

“It reminds me of San Francisco when, once the guys get behind and they can see the boat is faster, then you start building some momentum, ” Spithill said.

Whatever the motive for this Instagram post from the account of Oracle Team USA grinder Louis Sinclair, it was very suddenly removed shortly after being published.

"When we entered this we felt like we were in for one hell of a battle", Burling continued. "We have to learn from our mistakes and come out fighting stronger tomorrow, that's it, that's all we will be thinking about".

The defending champions trailed 3-0 after two days of competition and New Zealand strengthened their grip on the 35th edition of the famous race by winning Race Five in Bermuda on Saturday. At the first cross on the upwind, Spithill had extended enough to cross ahead of the Kiwi boat.

Underfunded Team New Zealand nearly folded after that debacle, but has bounced back with a remarkably fast boat design that includes a radical cycling grinding system.

  • Joanne Flowers