Team NZ seize lead in America's Cup round-robin

Posted June 09, 2017

That penalty all but ended their challenge as Oracle Team USA rounded the final mark and raced to the finish line 29 seconds ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand.

After enjoying two nearly flawless wins, the challengers got off to the worst possible start by copping a double penalty at the start.

Coupled with two wins in these round robins, Oracle has won 10 straight races against Team New Zealand.

Light winds may have beaten us today, but we will be back tomorrow when there is a significantly better wind forecast!

Team New Zealand will open Tuesday's racing with their first race against the Great Britain team starting at 5.08am [NZ time].

The first crew in each of the two semi-finals to win five races progresses to the challenger final and whoever wins that takes on Oracle Team USA for the America's Cup itself. "That's what we are here to do", he said. "We struggled in the light wind trying to get up on our foils, particularly downwind".

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"Just to inform you we are retiring from the race", a visibly irritated Ainslie could be heard telling the umpire.

With one day of round-robin racing to be sailed yesterday, the challenger semi-finalists were decided - New Zealand, Sweden, Britain's Land Rover BAR and Japan. In race one helmsman Peter Burling nailed the start over Dean Barker who was hunting a late hook. Also Saturday, the British boat beat Team Japan and Artemis Racing beat Groupama Team France, which was eliminated Friday.

Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill's Team USA have powered to victory over Japan to maintain their lead in the America's Cup qualification series.

"It'll be a real battle but we are up for it and looking forward to it".

Team New Zealand took full advantage with two near-faultless performances.

The American-backed crew, which includes Australians Spithill and Slingsby, will now train on its own while the challengers sail their semifinals, which start Sunday, and finals.

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If Oracle beats the Kiwis in the first race Saturday, it would clinch the bonus point on a tiebreaker based on standings in the America's Cup World Series the last two years.

The French remain tied at the bottom of the standings with Sweden's Artemis Racing, who had the day off.

Also Thursday, Oracle overcame a penalty at the start and passed stablemate SoftBank Team Japan to win by 32 seconds.

Victories over Team France and Team Japan were all the more impressive because at no stage did New Zealand look in anything other than total control.

Hampered by inconsistency and holding a less-than-impressive record of four wins and six losses, Land Rover BAR have it all to do to overhaul their semi-final opponents Team New Zealand.

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