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Kiwis reach match point in America's Cup challenger finals

20 June, 2017, 12:37 | Author: Alberta Rodriguez
  • Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling runs the gauntlet as he transitions to the starboard hull mid-race against Artemis

After two weeks of qualifiers, Oracle Team USA finally has a Challenger for the 35th America's Cup.

The America's Cup challenger final race between Emirates Team New Zealand and Sweden's Artemis Racing was abandoned on Monday when the wind dropped mid-race, leaving the two catamarans drifting and unable to complete the course.

It will a rematch of the 2013 America's Cup clash when Team New Zealand squandered an 8-1 lead to lose by a single race.

That team was stacked with some of New Zealand's best young sailors, with Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Andy Maloney and Guy Endean graduating to Emirates Team New Zealand, and the current crop have similar designs of stepping up. "I think we are in great shape to take on Oracle". "We didn't need much on our side last time to be successful and I think we're in that same position now, where we don't need a lot to go our way to definitely be in the hunt".

"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 2000.

Although Artemis Racing put up a keen fight, the New Zealand crew consistently had the edge in pace and manoeuvrability, with Burling calmly driving his high-speed craft around Bermuda's Great Sound as his "cyclors" pedalled non-stop to provide the power needed to control the vast "cat".

"I'm pretty sure we'll be going up against not quite the same Oracle as we went up against in the Challenger Series - but at the same time, there's not a whole heap you can actually improve on other than how you're sailing the boat", he said.

It would help if they win again when racing gets underway tomorrow morning (NZT) in Bermuda and they are expected to be among the contenders.

Upwind and downwind Aoteraoa had the measure of Artemis, with an average speed nearly three knots faster than the Swedish boat. Oracle Team USA then staged one of the greatest comebacks in sports, winning eight straight races to retain the Auld Mug.

When racing resumed, New Zealand, who led 4-2, comfortably won by 56 seconds to win the best-of-nine America's Cup challenger play-off final.

Meanwhile, Team BDA demonstrated that they will be no pushovers, thriving in the non-foiling conditions to keep their bid to qualify for the final of the Red Bull Youth Americas Cup on track.

In this edition, the victor of the 35th America's Cup will be the first team to claim seven points.

"We saw in the semifinals that anything's possible if we just keep chipping away", Outteridge said. The 2017 Emirates Team New Zealand doesn't appear to be scarred from that experience, per AmericasCup.com.

Artemis, led by Olympic gold medalists Outteridge of Australia and Iain Percy of Britain, looked good in practice races earlier this spring but didn't find its stride until late in the trials. "We're feeling ready now to take on the Defender".

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