Spithill, Oracle get swagger back with 1st America's Cup win

Posted June 26, 2017

The Kiwis need one more win to humble Ellison's squad and reclaim the oldest trophy in global sports for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, which held it from 1995-2003.

If New Zealand triumph, many will put it down to the revolutionary "cycling" system developed to power the hydraulics needed to control the catamaran's foils, which lift it out of the water, and the vast "wing" sail which drives it along.

However, it's proven anything but, with the Kiwi boat having won seven of the eight races to the line to date.

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

The clincher could come Monday, when two races are scheduled.

The tough-talking Australian sailor and his crew will need to find something special to repeat that feat, after making significant changes in the last week to their space-age catamaran to try to match the New Zealand boat's superior speed.

"We're frustrated with race one", Spithill said. "We've made no secret we're set up for a good battle and we feel like we've got one".

“We had them altering the whole time, we were doing everything we can, ” Spithill argued.

"We've been in this situation before".

"The plan certainly wasn't to be in this position again, I can assure you of that, but we are here now so it is up to all of us to respond and react". "We're going to come out and get stronger".

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.

The US win means the racing could continue beyond today. Now he's closing in on adding his name to a list of America's Cup winners that includes Dennis Conner, fellow New Zealander Russell Coutts and Ted Turner.

At 26, Burling could become the youngest helmsman to win sailing's greatest prize.

On a much more positive note, Spithill was delighted to see his team chalk up their first point after winning an exciting sixth race, which featured multiple lead changes and more breathtaking dial-downs. The Kiwis lost again to Alinghi in 2007.

Spithill turned up just a little bit as the 50-foot foiling catamarans approached the starting line, perhaps fearful of being early across the line as he was in Races 1 and 5, both losses.

Spithill says tactician Tom Slingsby has done a good job - "he basically had to play the cards he was dealt" - and neither will he blame software glitches for the errors which have plagued the Americans at key times.

Their "cyclors", including an Olympic cycling medallist, have kept their heads down throughout the contest, pedalling furiously to provide enough oil in the system to allow the boat to perform nearly balletic pirouette manoeuvres on the water.