It’s game on at the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda with Emirates Team New Zealand out to a 4-1 lead over Team USA in the first to seven match - but with the Americans getting their first point on the board.
Once again the boat that won the start won the race and in today’s first match up that was Emirates Team New Zealand.
Peter Burling looked to be in control heading for the line, with his advantage compounded by Jimmy Spithill misjudging Oracle’s run to be penalised for starting early.
But on the first upwind leg the work done by the Americans during the five-day gap between races started to become apparent, with some new-found pace seeing Oracle take the lead for the first time in the America’s Cup match.
It proved to be short-lived though. In a tight fight the boats engaged in a port-starboard dial down with both skippers calling for a penalty, the umpires judging the Kiwis to be in the right and slapping another penalty on the American boat.
After that Emirates Team New Zealand moved away and kept on extending at every mark, the Kiwi cause helped by problems on Oracle which saw the boat crashing off its foils en route to a 2’04” defeat.
Burling was quick to praise the shore crew for the work they’d done during the five day break: “They’ve made this great little boat quicker.”
Despite the loss, Spithill was also pleased with the way his boat was going as they lined up for the the second race:” I believe we can win this race and get one under our belt.”
And so it proved with Oracle winning the start for the first time in the Match. With the average speeds of the boats almost identical it was a case of who would make the least mistakes, both skippers later admitting to errors as the lead chopped and changed.
Having turned a 12” deficit into a six second lead at Mark 5 the Kiwis were looking in a strong position to make it two from two. But a misjudgement on the final beat let the Americans back in and they raced away for an 11” win.
Emirates Team New Zealand foil trimmer Blair Tuke was philosophical:” If you make mistakes you get punished for them. That’s the way we want sailing to be. It’s what we are here for.”
Both teams say they’ve a lot more in the tank and both were planning extensive reviews of their performances.
“We will learn from that,” said Tuke.” And we look forward coming back tomorrow and making less mistakes and giving a polished performance.”