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New Zealand wins 5th straight vs Oracle in America's Cup

26 June 2017

There were plenty of handshakes amongst teh Emirates Team New Zealand crew and support staff after two wins on Monday took the America's Cup final to match point.

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

From there, he kept his catamaran on foils all the way around the course as he sailed to the cusp of what would be an enormous upset of powerhouse Oracle Team USA, which is owned by one of the world's richest men, software tycoon Larry Ellison.

But Spithill's been here before. He mentioned the San Francisco comeback. He said the Kiwis had benefited from some "soft" calls by the umpires.

"We had a really good understanding of what they were trying to be able to do with their starts and a good strategy to oppose it".

"I'm just a small part of a massive team but I'm really happy to be contributing the way I did today". We've seen these guys taking days off.

"A lot has been said about what happened four years ago but I love the pressure". It was penalized twice and had a costly maneuver in the first race, allowing the Kiwis to speed off to a victory of 2:04, the biggest in the match.

Team New Zealand first won the America's Cup in 1995 when Russell Coutts - now the CEO of Oracle Team USA - skippered a five-race sweep of Dennis Conner off San Diego.

Oracle came back and won Race 6 by 11 seconds, the closest margin so far. "We've been there before".

Spithill said Oracle was going back out on the water later Saturday to practice. "Obviously we're not sailing it as well as we should be".

"The measurers get there at 7.30 each morning and they chaperone the boats out of the sheds and check off [all the hardware] that is assembled on the boat".

"Right across the team from the front office to the design team and the shore team, if we need to make any changes it's impressive how quickly they turn things around".

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Seeing the Americans low on pace, Burling pounced deep in the box, got the overlap to hook Spithill and turn the defendersinto the wind to stall them. The Kiwis have had their share of mayhem this spring, including a capsize in the challenger semifinals.

But Burling, in typically modest form, was quick to pay tribute to his coaches with Ray Davis, Rod Davis and Murray Jones having dished out plenty of attention to a key area for a sailor who was desperately short of match-racing experience heading into this regatta.

"To be honest, it excites us. We have to learn from our mistakes and come out fighting stronger tomorrow, that's it, that's all we will be thinking about".

Burling, though, is one cool cat at age 26, an Olympic gold and silver medalist steering a insane fast cat.

New Zealand snatched back the momentum after the United States of America notched their first win of the series on Saturday.

To which Spithill responded, "It's just beginning, mate".

They led by as many as 40 at the fourth mark, and even though the United States of America whittled that down to 12 Oracle weren't in position to challenge on the final sprint to the finish line.

In Race 5, Spithill, an Australian, crossed the starting line a split second too soon and had to drop two lengths behind Team New Zealand.

He crossed ahead on the third leg.

Team New Zealand tactician Ray Davies told RNZ's reporter in Bermuda, Todd Niall, that there was a very good mood on the boat today. Spithill dipped underneath and both crews pushed the protest button.

"It was great to see those boys actually sailing a little bit better ... these guys just sailed well and we're just excited about the battle ahead", New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said following the rare defeat.

The arch-rivals are due to resume battle on Bermuda's Great Sound on Sunday, with another two races scheduled.