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America's Cup Replay: Kiwis score two wins on Day 1

by Richard Gladwell 25 Jun 2018 20:42 PDT 26 June 2018
Pursued by TV boats, VIP boats and drones - Emirates Team New Zealand heads for the finish line and a second race win America's Cup 35th Match - Match Day1 - Regatta Day 17, June 17, 2017 (ADT) © Richard Gladwell

Our apologies for getting a little behind with's replay coverage of the 12 month anniversary, however we will allow the catch up in time for the win on Wednesday June 27, NZT) .

Following is the Sail-World coverage of Day 1 of the America's Cup Match, along with the report from America's Cup Media and the same from Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA. Also included is the timeline from the Race Management team - showing wind strengths, timings and key events. This was not available to be published at the time of the Event. Emirates Team New Zealand started the Match with a negative point after Oracle Team USA topped the Challenger Qualifier Series. After winning two races on the first day of the America's Cup Match, Emirates Team New Zealand led 1-0

Emirates Team New Zealand opened their America's Cup account on the Great Sound, Bermuda banking two wins from the first two races.

Conditions were at the light end of the scale - similar to the final race of the Challenger Finals where Emirates Team New Zealand showed their transoms to the Swedish Challenger, winning by almost a minute and taking the series.

The officially forecast breeze of 10-13kts never eventuated, and the first start was delayed due to winds dropping below 6kts average. Generally the breeze was in the 7-10kts range.

Today Peter Burling and his crew took up where they left off - winning both starts and more importantly being ahead at the first rounding mark.

Emirates Team New Zealand led around all twelve marks in the racing today. However their performance was not without incident or error, and on two occasions Oracle Team USA looked like they would be able to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.

The first in Race 1 came at the final mark, where in a repeat of one of their Challenger Finals races, the Kiwis muffed a gybe and bought the AC50 to a grinding halt, ahead of a fast approaching Oracle Team USA. The Kiwis lead of over two minutes was cut to just 30 seconds at the finish by the fast finishing Defender.

Skipper Glenn Ashby put the stop down to a crew error 'just a couple of wrong button presses. It's definitely something that we could have done better and can work at,' he added.

The second occurred at the end of the third beat in Race 2 where Oracle Team USA chopped a lead of 95 seconds at Mark 4 back to just three secs at the top of the beat, at Mark 5.

'We got a couple of weird helicopter puffs, and we didn't have the boat set up that well for the tacks,' Ashby explained.

'But I think we did well enough to keep our elbows out and keep them behind us, after a couple of great starts.'

'It was one of those shifty days when a lead can be made and lost very quickly.'

Asked to comment as to whether he felt Emirates Team New Zealand had a speed advantage over the Defender, Ashby said it was more a question of boat positioning than speed.

'If you were on the wrong side of a puff it didn't matter if you were 10kts faster than your opponent.

'To me, it was more about boat placement than speed. But our boat felt very nice today, but I think it was more about boat placement.'

On the water, it looked like Emirates Team New Zealand was able to sail deeper angles than Oracle Team USA.

'If you could get the boat set up nicely, then you could wind it down successfully. We got a couple of good squirts downwind which certainly helped us. But you only had to go 20 metres too far before gybing, and you'd lose it completely.

'It was a tricky one today - more like sailing a (foiling) Moth. You can lose a lead very quickly in those conditions.'

Oracle Team USA looked very rusty at the starts and lacked match fitness after a 12-day layoff. The Defender was very strong in the start box during the Round Robin phase of the Qualifiers - and they were generally the best performed of the six teams.

But today if was a different story with Oracle Team USA being penalised in the first race for OCS (On Course Side) of the start line - handing Emirates Team New Zealand an 18sec lead at the first mark after just 74 seconds of sailing.

In Race 2, The Emirates Team New Zealand crew continued the form they had shown in the latter stages of the Challenger Final, winning the start by an official margin of 2 secs, which was stretched to 4 secs at Mark 1.

After the racing Ashby paid tribute to his crew, all of whom (Ashby excepted) were sailing in their first America's Cup race.

'They are a really good talented bunch of guys who are coming through, and it is good that they don't have a lot of baggage from other previous events.

'It is good to be able to push them when they need it.

'The boat feels good, and they are sailing far beyond their age and experience', Ashby added. 'Pete and the boys got us off the startline nicely, and that allowed us to ourselves in a position where we could sail a few puffs and shifts to get that initial little break.

'I think it was much more about boat placement because it was so shifty - and it was also about technique in those conditions - how you were adjusting the jib and the wing and the foil.'

The two wins in today's racing puts Emirates Team New Zealand on one point - having started the Match minus one point - due to Oracle Team USA winning the Qualifier Round.

Conditions are expected to be similar for Races 3 and 4 - which seems to be the Kiwis sweet spot. Then there is a five-day break before racing resumes on Saturday, June 24 - with the long range weather forecast showing stronger winds.

Official and Team Reports:

Emirates Team New Zealand: It is advantage Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand at the end of day one of the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton.

The Kiwi Challengers to Jimmy Spithill's ORACLE TEAM USA took back-to-back victories in the first two races of the final stage of the 35th America's Cup, putting them into a 1-0 lead over the Defenders of the 'Auld Mug' at the end of day one of the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, in Bermuda.

The New Zealanders' first race victory of the day put the scores at 0-0 as Jimmy Spithill's team started the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton with a one point advantage over their rivals, having won the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers. Their second victory of the day put the Kiwis into an end-of-day-one lead of one point, with ORACLE TEAM USA yet to score.

The match-up between ORACLE TEAM USA and Emirates Team New Zealand is a rematch of the 2013 America's Cup Match in which ORACLE TEAM USA staged what many call the greatest comeback in sport. Then, the US team turned an 8-1 deficit to their Kiwi rivals into a 9-8 victory in San Francisco, setting the stage perfectly for the mother of all grudge matches which is now taking place on Bermuda's Great Sound.

"Everyone connected to our team has been working incredibly hard to try and give us a fast boat and it is incredible to be able to reward them with two victories today," said Peter Burling.

However, despite Emirates Team New Zealand securing back-to-back victories on day one, Burling is not getting carried away just yet. "Jimmy (Spithill) and ORACLE TEAM USA sailed really well to put us under a lot of pressure, but we managed to keep our composure and sail really well.

"We've said all along that we are learning all the time and although we won both races we got a lot wrong and made too many mistakes today.

"We will go away and look at what we need to improve because we all know for a fact that Jimmy (Spithill) won't give up and so we have to keep progressing.

"We've known all along that to win the America's Cup we had to win eight races and so to get two wins on the board already is fantastic. We'll keep battling away and aim to get the remaining six wins needed as soon as possible."

Despite relinquishing the point advantage they held at the beginning of the day, ORACLE TEAM USA helmsman Jimmy Spithill is refusing to panic, especially with the experience of overturning an 8-1 deficit to the same opposition in 2013. "We're obviously disappointed with what was a tough day, but the deficit is only one point so we we're not panicking," said a defiant Spithill.

"Clearly we didn't sail our best today, but we still had opportunities and that is what we will take away with us.

"It is too early to draw conclusions on what went wrong for us but we will go away and look at what we have to change ahead of tomorrow.

"Credit to Peter (Burling) and Emirates Team New Zealand because they made fewer mistakes to win both races.

"However, I've been here before, and it is still only a point!"

America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, Race 1

Jimmy Spithill's ORACLE TEAM USA made the worst possible start to their defence of the 'Auld Mug' as they were handed a penalty for crossing the start line fractionally early.

"We had a little issue on board during the first start," said Spithill. "We thought we were coming back when we wanted to but as it turned out we were wrong, it is something we will have to go back and look at. We basically handed that first race to them."

The penalty handed the initiative to Emirates Team New Zealand, and Peter Burling took full advantage, sailing well clear of his rival Spithill, holding a 32 second lead by the turn at the second gate.

In relatively light winds, Burling continued to sail smoothly, extending the Kiwis' advantage to a healthy margin of one minute and 52 seconds over their rivals by the fifth gate.

However, Burling did not have it all his own way and mistakes began to creep in. Two poor manoeuvres reduced Emirates Team New Zealand's advantage, giving Jimmy Spithill a slight hope of catching the Kiwis in the closing stages.

"It was an incredibly tricky day out there with the winds and they certainly weren't our best manoeuvres," conceded Burling. "If you make a small mistake it can prove a costly one."

However, there was to be no late drama, as Burling's team crossed the finish line 30 seconds ahead of Spithill's ORACLE TEAM USA, wiping out the minus one point deficit to the Defenders and levelling the overall scores to 0-0 ahead of race two.

America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, Race 2

Having cut the point deficit, Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand set about building on the momentum of victory in the first race by again beating Jimmy Spithill's ORACLE TEAM USA away from the start line.

Race two was much closer than race one, but Emirates Team New Zealand were still able to pull clear, establishing a lead of up to one minute, 34 seconds by the time they rounded mark four.

However, once again Emirates Team New Zealand gave their rivals a glimmer of hope in the closing stages as ORACLE TEAM USA dramatically cut the gap to Emirates Team New Zealand on the run to the fifth mark. As both boats headed towards the turn the gap was down to just over three seconds, and it looked like the US team might record their first win of the America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, but it was not to be.

"Halfway way up that second beat we definitely lost a lot and we have to go away and keep learning and improving," admitted Burling.

Having closed the gap, ORACLE TEAM USA's yacht came down off its foils and that gave Emirates Team New Zealand the chance to re-establish their lead.

"I think what happened is that we lost a rudder," revealed Spithill, reflecting on the manoeuvre that all but ended their challenge.

"We'll have to go back and look at that because it was obviously a key moment in the race."

With the pressure now off, Burling guided his team around the sixth and final gate and coasted to the finish line an entire minute and 28 seconds ahead of Jimmy Spithill's ORACLE TEAM USA, taking not only their second successive win of day one, but also moving into a one point advantage in the battle for the 'Auld Mug'.

America's Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, Race Results:

Race 1: Emirates Team New Zealand beat ORACLE TEAM USA by 30 seconds.
Race 2: Emirates Team New Zealand beat ORACLE TEAM USA by 1 minute and 28 seconds.

The most pleasing aspect for the Kiwis was the speed of their boat in the light conditions of seven to ten knots, Aotearoa New Zealand consistently quicker than the Americans.

Emirates Team New Zealand Skipper Glenn Ashby was quick to highlight they had plenty to improve and work on over the next 10 days if the team are to be ultimately successful.

“It was such a tricky day for both teams, we made a few human errors with our boat handling that we need to work on and address.” said Ashby

“These guys are only going to get stronger, so we need to also. This is not going to be anything less that a huge battle we are expecting.”

Perhaps the unexpected strength today was the superb starting by Emirates Team New Zealand twice getting the better of rival Jimmy Spithill.

It was the start which set up victory in race one, Emirates Team New Zealand driving Spithill over the line early with Oracle penalised. Helmsman Peter Burling then compounded the penalty by further slowing down the American boat before foiling away to build a huge lead.

But the light winds also made for very tricky conditions which produced a heart-stopping moment for the Kiwis when they ran out of breeze and sank off the foils with the finish in sight.

As the Americans charged in the Kiwi boat gradually recovered, rising out of the water and sprinting to the line for a 30” win. Burling, though, far from satisfied.

“There are so many things we can work on and improve on,” he said. “But we’re really happy to win with so many errors around the race track and really happy with the speed.”

For Race 2 Emirates Team New Zealand again led around mark one.

The margin blew out once more and at one stage Emirates Team New Zealand were ahead by 1’35”, only to see the Americans find pressure and storm back to close within three seconds at mark five.

With the cyclors working overtime to produce more oil pressure the kiwi’s were able to pull off a series of manouevres which allowed them to hold its slender lead. The Americans then had a bad gybe which sat them in the water, while the Kiwi boat lifted away again to win by 1’28”.

Skipper Glenn Ashby praised the work of the cyclors: ”It was a massive effort on the hydro. The shifty, puffy conditions meant huge movements of the dagger-boards and wing. We never stopped trimming and the boys got an absolute flogging.”

The team will now be reviewing their performance to try and iron out mistakes, both skipper and helmsman saying they'd got plenty to ponder after today.

“We’re under no illusions that we’ve got a lot of hard work going forward,” said Burling.” And we’re under no illusions the other guys are not going to give us a break.”

Having started the day on minus one, Emirates Team New Zealand are one up in the first to seven series. There are two more races scheduled for tomorrow with similar light conditions forecast.

Oracle Team USA: The first day of the 35th America’s Cup match in Bermuda was a challenging one for Oracle Team USA who trail one - zero on the scorecard.

Conditions were light on Saturday afternoon – seven to nine knots from and easterly direction – making for challenging maneuvers and tactical calls in puffy, shifty breezes.

Two races were sailed on Bermuda’s Great Sound and Emirates Team New Zealand won both, although Oracle Team USA had its opportunities. In both contests, the Kiwis built early leads only to have Oracle Team USA close the gap.

'We had our opportunities,' said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “But the bottom line is they made fewer mistakes today than we did and that was the difference.

“I thought Tommy and the boys did a great job of getting us back into it both times. It’s just a shame we couldn’t pull it off.

'We'll have a good debrief tonight, make some adjustments and come back stronger tomorrow.”

Two more races are scheduled on Sunday, with the forecast for slightly stronger winds.

Oracle Team USA earned a one bonus point advantage by winning the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers earlier this month. With the two wins today, Emirates Team New Zealand now leads the ‘first to seven points’ series one - zero.

America’s Cup Match – Race One Report

The wind on Bermuda’s Great Sound was in the seven to eight knot range when Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill turned for the starting line early and found himself with too much time to kill, pushing across the starting line before the start gun and picking up a penalty.

The infraction cost Oracle Team USA a two boat-length penalty and allowed New Zealand to lead by 13-seconds and over 100 meters at mark one.

Early on the first run, Spithill gybed first to get some separation, but the Kiwis were sailing lower and faster on the run leading through the bottom gate by 32-seconds.

The teams split at the leeward marks but New Zealand kept a loose cover on Oracle Team USA upwind, staying between the defender and the next mark. At the top the Kiwis led by 46-seconds and at next bottom mark the lead was still 40-seconds.

The final upwind leg was more of the same, with Team New Zealand sailing from boundary to boundary to minimize maneuvers. Although Spithill and tactician Slingsby were able to split for most of the leg, a favorable puff or shift never materialized and the Kiwis rounded the top mark and sailed downwind to win the first race.

As Oracle Team USA won the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers earlier this month, the Kiwis started the match down by one point. This first win for New Zealand levels the scoreboard at zero - zero.

Crew list for Race One:

• Skipper / Helmsman -- Jimmy Spithill
• Wing Trimmer -- Kyle Langford
• Tactician / Grinder -- Tom Slingsby
• Grinder -- Louis Sinclair
• Grinder -- Kinley Fowler
• Grinder -- Ky Hurst

America’s Cup Match – Race Two

In race two it was Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill who was on the push in the pre-start, forcing Emirates Team New Zealand towards the starting line. But the Kiwis escaped the push, turning for the starting line just a moment ahead of Oracle Team USA and leading into mark one by just under five-seconds.

The Kiwis appeared fast downwind on the first run extending to a 23-second margin at the bottom gate.

With a split at the gate, Team New Zealand checked in early, throwing a covering tack on Oracle Team USA and playing it safe up the beat.

The Kiwis extended, but on the second upwind leg, tactician Tom Slingsby found a vein of wind and a favorable shift to close the race right up.

Approaching the top gate, the Kiwis elected to tack directly in front of Oracle Team USA. With Spithill pushing hard from behind to get an overlap, and so little separating the boats, he asked for penalty, but the Umpires declined.

New Zealand was just three-seconds ahead at the gate. Both boats needed to do quick gybes early on the run, and when Oracle Team USA came off the foils in the maneuver, Team New Zealand ran away for the win.

With the win Emirates Team New Zealand leads the America’s Cup Match one - zero.

Crew list for Race Two:

• Skipper / Helmsman -- Jimmy Spithill
• Wing Trimmer -- Kyle Langford
• Tactician / Grinder -- Tom Slingsby
• Grinder -- Cooper Dressler
• Grinder -- Kinley Fowler
• Grinder -- Graeme Spence

Race Management Timeline of Events - America's Cup Match Day 1, Races 1 & 2

Liveline Chatter Feed

9:39:03 TIM Good morning from Bermuda! It's Saturday, 17 June 2017
9:39:11 TIM The first race day of the 35th America's Cup
9:39:23 TIM Race 1 Start: 14:12
9:40:57 PRO Race 71 Start: 12:00
9:47:09 PRO mel pro1 test
9:48:12 PRO Race 72 Start: 12:00
10:17:36 PRO Race 91 Start: 14:12
10:18:04 PRO Race 99 Start: 14:12
11:02:21 PRO Race 91 Start: 12:00
11:13:07 PRO Race 99 Start: 12:00
11:19:12 PRO Race 91 Start: 12:00
11:57:00 Race 91 (USA,NZL): Warning, 3:00 until start
12:00:00 Race 91 (USA,NZL): Started
12:26:26 PRO Race 1 Start: 14:12
13:53:51 WND Wind 142 at 9.0 kn, 10.3 kn peak
14:01:25 PRO USA port
14:01:27 PRO NZL stbd
14:01:34 PRO Course 6-F
14:02:04 WND Wind 157 at 8.1 kn, 10.2 kn peak
14:02:33 PRO Axis 145
14:02:38 PRO Length 1nm
14:02:43 PRO M1-boundary 500m
14:02:49 PRO Good Luck!
14:03:24 WND Wind 158 at 7.9 kn, 9.4 kn peak
14:06:59 PRO Race 1 Start: 14:15
14:07:23 PRO Race 1 Start: 14:16
14:11:34 WND Wind 151 at 7.5 kn, 10.3 kn peak

14:13:00 Race 1 (USA,NZL): Warning, 3:00 until start
14:13:53 USA Began Entry
14:13:56 USA Completed Entry
14:14:02 NZL Began Entry
14:14:06 NZL Completed Entry
14:15:59 USA Crossed Start Line
14:16:00 Race 1 (USA,NZL): Started
14:16:00 MDS USA OCS/Prestart Penalty
14:16:06 NZL Crossed Start Line
14:16:31 MDS USA OCS/Prestart Penalty Complete
14:17:14 NZL Rounded Mark 1, 1:14.9 after start
14:17:32 USA Rounded Mark 1, 0:18.0 behind leader
14:18:25 WND Wind 149 at 7.5 kn, 9.7 kn peak
14:18:41 PRO WG 150
14:19:11 NZL Rounded Mark 2, 3:11.6 after start
14:19:43 USA Rounded Mark 2, 0:31.6 behind leader
14:21:03 WND Wind 148 at 7.6 kn, 9.3 kn peak
14:24:03 WND Wind 141 at 8.4 kn, 10.1 kn peak
14:24:32 NZL Rounded Mark 3, 8:32.5 after start
14:25:18 USA Rounded Mark 3, 0:46.2 behind leader
14:26:53 PRO WG -
14:27:02 PRO WG 144
14:27:03 WND Wind 146 at 7.9 kn, 9.9 kn peak
14:27:50 NZL Rounded Mark 4, 11:50.2 after start
14:28:29 USA Rounded Mark 4, 0:39.5 behind leader
14:30:03 WND Wind 150 at 7.7 kn, 10.9 kn peak
14:31:59 NZL Rounded Mark 5, 15:59.6 after start
14:33:03 WND Wind 143 at 9.6 kn, 10.6 kn peak
14:34:01 USA Rounded Mark 5, 2:02.3 behind leader
14:35:38 NZL Rounded Mark 6, 19:38.0 after start
14:36:03 WND Wind 144 at 8.4 kn, 9.4 kn peak
14:36:32 USA Rounded Mark 6, 0:54.1 behind leader
14:37:07 NZL Crossed Finish Line
14:37:08 PRO NZL Finished: time 14:37:07.495, 21:07.495 after start
14:37:37 USA Crossed Finish Line, 0:30.2 behind leader
14:37:39 PRO USA Finished: time 14:37:37.697, 21:37.697 after start
14:37:41 PRO Race 1 Terminated

14:38:06 PRO Race 2 Start: 14:57
14:39:03 WND Wind 149 at 7.6 kn, 9.6 kn peak
14:42:03 WND Wind 156 at 8.2 kn, 10.0 kn peak
14:47:03 WND Wind 146 at 8.7 kn, 10.6 kn peak
14:54:00 Race 2 (USA,NZL): Warning, 3:00 until start
14:54:13 PRO NZL port
14:54:20 PRO USA stbd
14:54:23 PRO Course 6-F
14:54:53 NZL Began Entry
14:54:58 NZL Completed Entry
14:55:05 USA Began Entry
14:55:07 USA Completed Entry
14:56:33 WND Wind 156 at 8.6 kn, 11.2 kn peak
14:57:00 Race 2 (USA,NZL): Started
14:57:01 NZL Crossed Start Line
14:57:03 USA Crossed Start Line
14:57:59 NZL Rounded Mark 1, 0:59.0 after start
14:58:03 USA Rounded Mark 1, 0:04.5 behind leader
14:58:54 PRO WG +
14:59:45 NZL Rounded Mark 2, 2:45.9 after start
15:00:09 USA Rounded Mark 2, 0:23.2 behind leader
15:04:52 NZL Rounded Mark 3, 7:52.0 after start
15:05:58 USA Rounded Mark 3, 1:06.1 behind leader
15:07:03 WND Wind 154 at 8.0 kn, 10.7 kn peak
15:07:23 PRO WG 151
15:07:59 NZL Rounded Mark 4, 10:59.9 after start
15:09:35 USA Rounded Mark 4, 1:35.4 behind leader
15:12:04 WND Wind 151 at 7.8 kn, 10.3 kn peak
15:14:40 NZL Rounded Mark 5, 17:40.7 after start
15:14:41 USA Yankee Flag
15:14:43 USA Rounded Mark 5, 0:03.0 behind leader
15:14:45 UMP USA No Penalty
15:15:04 WND Wind 151 at 7.2 kn, 8.0 kn peak
15:17:41 NZL Rounded Mark 6, 20:41.7 after start
15:18:04 WND Wind 145 at 7.0 kn, 9.6 kn peak
15:18:40 NZL Crossed Finish Line
15:18:41 PRO NZL Finished: time 15:18:40.662, 21:40.662 after start
15:19:08 USA Rounded Mark 6, 1:26.3 behind leader
15:20:08 USA Crossed Finish Line, 1:27.5 behind leader
15:20:09 PRO USA Finished: time 15:20:08.208, 23:08.208 after start
15:20:11 PRO Race 2 Terminated
15:20:22 WND Wind 142 at 7.5 kn, 9.0 kn peak
15:22:30 TIM America's Cup racing finished for today.
15:22:41 TIM See you tomorrow! Chatter out.

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