16 Mar 2021

America's Cup: Team NZ move to match point

7:25 pm on 16 March 2021

Team New Zealand will have to wait until Wednesday to try and wrap up their defence of the America's Cup.

Team New Zealand Flight Controller Blair Tuke and helmsman Peter Burling, Luna Rossa co-helmsmen Francessco Buni and Jimmy Spithill.


Decreasing and shifting winds meant the second of Tuesday's two races against Luna Rossa on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour was not able to start prior to the 6pm time limit for racing.

The delay came with the defenders 6-3 ahead, needing just one more win in the best of 13 series, after they had earlier produced another come-from-behind win over the Italians.

In what was a thrilling ninth race of the Cup match, Luna Rossa held a narrow lead through almost five legs of the six leg race on course C under the shadow of North Head.

The two boats had got off the start line neck-and-neck, with the Challengers of Record just keeping their nose in front to go through the first gate with a buffer of only one second.

That margin extended out slightly to eight seconds at gate two and nine seconds at gate three but Team New Zealand had rarely trailed by more than 100 metres and at the fourth gate the difference was back to just three seconds.

The decisive moment then came in the final stages of the fifth and penultimate leg.

Picking up a right-hand wind shift, with separation from Luna Rossa, the defenders powered past to round the final mark with the biggest lead of the race, 18 seconds.

From there, they didn't look back, extending all the way down the last leg to cross the finish 30 seconds ahead of their Italian rivals.

Emirates Team New Zealand wins race six on day three of the America's Cup presented by Prada. Saturday the 13th of March 2021. Copyright photo: Chris Cameron / www.photosport.co.nz

Photo: Photosport / Chris Cameron

Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said the close quarters battle was enjoyable.

"Pretty tight race, all-in-all and one little right shift up that last [upwind] beat really decided it for us.

"Just good, fun racing. It's great to be back in here on course C and having a good battle with a really good team.

"We're just going out and trying to keep learning and improving and do the best we can. We're here to try and win yacht races and we'll keep fighting for as long as it takes."

Luna Rossa co-helmsman Francesco Bruni admitted the day's only race had been one that got away for them.

"Yeah, unfortunately. Obviously it's a painful one but chin up and keep fighting.

"We're definitely fighting hard. I'm very proud of the full team, with the boys. We just couldn't get every shift right and we missed this opportunity but we can still win races for sure."

A lack of wind wasn't expected to be an issue on Wednesday, with north-easterly breezes of up to 15 knots forecast.