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

Barsaba Taglieri
Giugno 26, 2017

Peter Burling, 26, the helmsman of Emirates Team New Zealand won both of the starts against Jimmy Spithill, despite having less match racing experience, which has earned the Kiwi team a reputation as underdogs.

A win by the Kiwis would deny the USA crew their third successive win.

The two-time defending Americas Cup champions are foundering badly against hotshot young helmsman Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand, who are threatening to sail — and cycle — away with the oldest trophy in worldwide sports.

"The amount of Kiwis that have also travelled up here, the flags that are around the village - we just really appreciate the support and it inspires us to keep pushing on". Coutts successfully defended the Americas Cup in 2000 before jumping to Swiss startup syndicate Alinghi of Switzerland and sweeping his former team in 2003.

"I'm not happy with how we sailed today, even though we've got two points on the board", Burling said.

“So it was one of those days where its pretty hard to string every single puff and every single puff together so we had to let a couple go to make sure we sort of played the longer game.”.

Spithill vowed that from today to Friday the entire USA team - from boat builders, designers, engineers and crew - would be working round the clock in a bid to catch up.

The low-key Kiwi crew shook hands after crossing the finish line of the second race just off the America's Cup Village on the site of a former Royal Navy base. The Americans had gone in with a one-point advantage thanks to topping the qualifying round-robin.

"It was an incredibly tricky day out there with the winds and they certainly weren't our best manoeuvres", conceded Burling.

Spithill was over the starting line early, forcing him to drop two boat lengths behind to clear the penalty.

Both teams sailed textbook races, but New Zealand's superior boat speed, on its light air foils, proved decisive in the victory by a margin of 1 minute 12 seconds.

"We're obviously disappointed with what was a tough day, but the deficit is only one point so we we're not panicking", said a defiant Spithill. That was enough for Burling to speed away around the seven-leg course.

Four years ago, the Americans, guided by Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill, pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in sport.

New Zealand are now just four wins away from the eight required to win the world's oldest global sporting competition.

New Zealand's only obvious miscue of the day came in the pre-start of the second race, when it slowed to a near stop.

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