Hamilton - Emirates
Team New Zealand booked an America's Cup rematch with Oracle Team USA
on Monday, beating Sweden's Artemis Racing in the lone race of the day
to win the challenger final 5-2.
The Kiwis came into the day with a 4-2 lead in the best-of-nine
series and needing just one victory to advance to the 35th America's Cup
The decisive day got off to an anti-climactic start when the first
race was abandoned as the winds dropped and neither boat could make it
to the finish line of the shortened course within the 25-minute limit.
After a couple of hours of waiting - and with just 10 minutes left
until the latest possible start time - regatta director Iain Murray
determined the wind had built enough to conduct a fair race.
Barely anything separated the two rivals at the start, but it was New
Zealand in front after a sprint to the first mark - the first time in
the series that helmsman Nathan Outteridge didn't have Artemis in front
From there the Swedes simply couldn't match New Zealand's speed as
Kiwi skipper Peter Burling and his crew delivered a textbook performance
in light winds for a convincing win.
"We're obviously pretty excited," said Burling, adding that the configuration of his team's foiling catamaran was "spot on".
"I think it showed during that race - the boat was just going
seriously fast," Burling said. "And we got a good start, so it's all the
little things we've worked on all week.
"We definitely feel like we're in great shape to take on Oracle now."
Team New Zealand, who fell
victim to Oracle Team USA's remarkable comeback in San Francisco four
years ago, will try to thwart the Americans' bid for a third straight
America's Cup crown in the finals that get underway on Saturday.
Burling wasn't on that New Zealand team in 2013, when US skipper
Jimmy Spithill led his team back from a 1-8 deficit to a 9-8 triumph.
The only holdover on the Kiwi starting crew is wing trimmer and skipper Glenn Ashby.
While New Zealand's current crew may bear no scars from the ordeal of
San Francisco, they do go into the first-to-seven final at a slight
Oracle open their defense one point up thanks to topping the standings in the round-robin phase of qualifying.
But Burling and his crew are battle hardened, having come through a
frightening capsize in heavy winds in a challenger semi-final race
against Land Rover BAR last week.
No one was seriously hurt, but it needed a massive repair effort just
to resume racing and complete a 5-2 semi-final series win over the
British outfit helmed by Ben Ainslie.
"One thing about this team, they've dug super-deep to get us to this
point," said Burling, whose team are determined to bring the venerable
trophy home for a third time, after winning with Black Magic in 1995 and
"We're here to bring the Cup back to New Zealand and that hasn't
changed," Burling said. "We've gone through a lot of adversity ... we're
super-excited to take on Oracle."