Defending champions Oracle Team USA clawed their way back into the America's Cup on Saturday with a much-needed win over Emirates Team New Zealand to reduce their deficit to 4-1 in the first-to-seven final.
HAMILTON, Bermuda, June 25 (Reuters) - New Zealand flew to the edge of America's Cup victory over the US on Sunday, going 6-1 ahead in the first-to-seven final and setting themselves up to exorcise the ghost of losing in San Francisco in 2013. As for losing the first race of the series, Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling said, "It was great to see a little bit of fight out of these boys", a comment that was sure to be repeated in the Oracle camp.
Race 6 was to follow. The US win means the racing will now go into today or beyond.
"We've got a pretty impressive bunch of designers in the chase [boat], tweaking it and making sure our starting package is as good as it can be", said Burling.
After five days with no racing, both crews have been working to improve the performance of their space-age catamarans, with the pressure on the US crew and their extensive design and technical team to pull something out of the hat.
"They deserved to win both of the races because we clearly made far too many mistakes out there".
We just couldnt get the hook up after we turned up there at the start and unfortunately allowed them the hook and from then on it was very, very hard to catch up once they got their nose free, Spithill said.
If you want to come all the way to Bermuda and win the America's Cup then you have to deal with huge pressure.
Spithill's fightback in San Francisco in 2013 ranks as one of the biggest ever sporting reversals, overturning an 8-1 New Zealand lead to win the "Auld Mug" by 9-8.
The lead then changed hands twice on leg two but it was Jimmy Spithill's team which held a slender 12 second advantage at the third gate. That was the key thing.
Youve got to take your hats off to those guys, Spithill said.
However, just as they had taken the lead, ORACLE TEAM USA were punished once again as the boats crossed for a second time on leg 3/7.
The next cross saw an aggressive dial-down by the starboard tack Team New Zealand.
At gate four Spithill took a gamble, jibing in the run up to the next gate, but it proved to be an error and Burling took the shorter course to the gate to edge ahead of his rival.
Such head-to-head duels can often determine the outcome of America's Cup clashes, with New Zealand quickly establishing an early lead which they never relinquished.