Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

Burling, Kiwis beat Oracle third time in America's Cup

Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill admitted his team will need to make major changes if they are to turn the match around.

New Zealand's boat speed was again superior in race four, with Jimmy Spithill's American crew essentially left to wait for a mistake that never came. The Kiwis led for much of the race, despite Oracle closing to three seconds after a wind shift put them back in touch.

But the Americans aren't to be ruled out of proceedings given their tag as favorites to secure a third straight title.

"It's not over yet, we've got five days and they're five very important days".

But Spithill insisted there was still room to make useful adjustments to the complicated systems that control the space-age craft, and to "appendages" including the massive fixed-wing sails, rudders and the daggerboards that allow the boats to foil - virtually flying with their twin hulls above the water surface. Helmsman Peter Burling, 26, took the lead in the fourth race and extended it, as he had in the previous race.

Although Team USA beat New Zealand twice in qualifying, the Kiwis were able to squeeze more from their foiling catamaran as they battled through the challenger semi-finals and final - while the defenders looked on from the sidelines.

Spithill is no stranger to adversity as he and his team made one of the biggest-ever comebacks in sporting history when they rallied from 8-1 down against New Zealand to win the "Auld Mug" in San Francisco in 2013 when the victor was the first to nine.

"The up-side, for us, is there's a lot of technology out there now", Spithill said.

Team New Zealand has dominated the opening salvo, winning both races Saturday and Sunday by significant margins through a combination of better starts, slicker crew work, fewer mistakes and a lightning-fast boat, aided to some extent by the "cyclors" or leg grinders in place of traditional arm-powered winches to better power the hydraulic systems. Simon van Velthooven, who won a bronze medal in track cycling at the London Olympics, was aboard for Race 3.

As for Oracle's foil selection, "I thought we made a good step forward", Spithill said.

And we all know what Spithill will have to say if that happens. "Sometimes you learn the most when you look across the fence at your competitors and I've always found that when you go up against the best that's typically what brings the best out in you".

In Race 4, the Kiwis held a slim lead at the first mark and simply pulled away.

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