19 Sep 2013

NZ one win away from America's Cup victory

5:55 pm on 19 September 2013

Emirates Team New Zealand says nothing will stop them from winning the America's Cup now.

Team New Zealand could clinch the cup on Friday, after beating the American Oracle Syndicate in Thursday's only race to take their lead to eight wins, in the best of nine series.

The New Zealanders won Thursday's first race by 15 seconds but the second race was called off because of high winds. Skipper Dean Barker had narrowly won the start of the second race just as the race committee called it off.

The team's sailing rules advisor, Russell Green, says even if Oracle win the next couple of races it won't put New Zealand off their game.

"Our guys are pretty determined and we think that even if we lost two tomorrow, there's no way they're going to change the momentum. Our guys will be determined. We'll just have to go out the next day and do it again, until we win this thing."

Green says it was frustrating having the second race postponed after it had started, as New Zealand had used a new tactic which he says would have won them the race.

However, Radio New Zealand's America's Cup correspondent says the Team New Zealand boat had been set up to make the most of conditions in the first race and the second race, in higher winds, would likely have favoured Oracle if it had been completed.

Detailed description

In the first race, Team New Zealand was ahead by just a boat length across the start line. The New Zealanders led by three seconds at gate one and increased the lead to six seconds at gate two.

On the upwind leg, Team New Zealand again proved slightly faster than Oracle, rounding gate three with a 17 second lead.

Downwind, the boats were even, with Oracle trailing by 18 seconds around gate four.

The result puts Team New Zealand 8-1 up over Oracle, with the first to reach nine points taking the cup.

Team New Zealand business manager Ross Blackman says it was a nerve-wracking race after a strong start by the New Zealanders.

A trimmer on board Team New Zealand, Glenn Ashby, says it was frustrating to get so close to getting underway in the second race but the team accepts the officials' decision.

"It was getting pretty top-end and getting pretty bumpy with the tide," he says.

Despite being so close to losing the cup, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill remains upbeat, saying his team has a battle on its hands but is taking each race one at a time.

Sea and wind conditions on Friday look more favourable for two races to be completed than they did on Thursday.

However, one thing that may count against Team New Zealand is the way the starts are organised.

Oracle will have the favoured left hand side of the start box for both races, which in theory gives it the upper hand in pre-start manoeuvring.

But as Thursday's abandoned second race shows, Team New Zealand is capable of neutralising that advantage.

Auckland ready for action

Auckland mayor Len Brown says the city will be ready to host the next America's Cup should Team New Zealand win the regatta on Friday.

Up to 2000 yachting fans watched the first race in Shed 10 on Auckland's waterfront on Thursday.

New Zealand flags were draped across shoulders and friends and family held each tightly in anticipation as the race got underway.

Mr Brown joined the Shed 10 crowd and says he is cautiously optimistic about the cup returning to New Zealand.

He says the previous America's Cup regatta in Auckland had massive economic benefits, producing about $750 million for the economy.

Mr Brown says the city is much better equipped to handle a future event, with new facilities such as Shed 10 and the Wynyard Quarter.

Excitement has also been high among New Zealanders in San Francisco, where earlybird fans queued at the gates of the America's Cup complex on waterfront to secure the best spots in the big screen viewing area.

They made a dash for bean bags and barbeque tables as soon as the gates opened.