Burling, Team New Zealand reach match point in America's Cup

The Aussie brains trust is still with Oracle four years on from what was described as "the greatest comeback in the history of sport" when the Americans came from 8-1 down to win the Cup.

However, despite the setback, the American team responded spectacularly, closing the gap completely rounding the second gate before taking the lead in the first pass of the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, on leg 3/7. The first day of the second weekend of America's Cup racing had a little bit of everything.

After five days away from racing Jimmy Spithill's ORACLE TEAM USA's fightback against Emirates Team New Zealand started in the worst possible style in Race Five, the team being handed a penalty for crossing the start line too early, allowing Peter Burling's Emirates Team New Zealand to sail into a clear lead.

After a five-day break, the showdown between 50-foot foiling catamarans resumes with two races Saturday, if there's enough wind, and two Sunday.

The charismatic Spithill has more expertise in match racing, the sailing equivalent of a boxing contest, and the benefit of almost two decades of America's Cup experience.

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

Instead, Spithill said it was about eliminating errors in sailing technique in a boat that he felt had the pace to keep the Cup match alive.

Coutts, who is in the unusual role of also being CEO of the America's Cup Event Authority, has been at Oracle's base trying to help the team figure out how to sail the boat better.

"We know we can do this", Spithill said.

In 2010, Spithill became the youngest skipper to win the America's Cup, at age 30.

The US team, backed by tech billionaire Larry Ellison erased a 1-8 deficit four years ago to stun New Zealand 9-8 in San Francisco.

While Burling steers the boat, the crew is skippered by Australian Glenn Ashby, 39, a multihull wiz who controls the wingsail.

Team USA came back and won race six by 11 seconds, the closest margin so far. "Even with personnel changes, there's this culture that's developed". "Once the guys see the boat is faster, then you start building some momentum". And this time is possibly one of the most impressive editions. Every single team member in Oracle Team USA will do whatever they can to help the team win. "They've already proven to be really, really successful".

That emphatic triumph saw New Zealand claim the first of back-to-back victories in the America's Cup that kept the "Auld Mug" in New Zealand until 2003. He sat out the 2007 match after getting sacked by Swiss boss Ernesto Bertarelli. ORACLE TEAM USA is back on track.

  • Salvatore Jensen