America's Cup: New Zealand lead Team USA 3-0 after four races

Frederick Owens
June 19, 2017

Peter Burling steered Emirates Team New Zealand to another runaway victory against Jimmy Spithill and two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA in Race 3 of the America's Cup on Sunday to remain undefeated in the showdown on the Great Sound.

Forced to drop back two boat-lengths, the Americans couldn't recover as the Kiwi catamaran displayed impressive speed in the light winds.

In 2013 Oracle Team USA made use of some lay days to make crucial tweaks to their boat set-up and changed some personnel, bringing in legendary British Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie as tactician.

Team USA bounced back from an 8-1 deficit in 2013 against the Kiwis to win 9-8 in the sport's most captivating episode yet.

Burling, the 26-year-old whose pre-start prowess was called into question during challenger qualifying, won the start of the second race and New Zealand steadily built their lead. "We are really happy with the outcome from this weekend but we are going to be a lot better next weekend".

The low-key Kiwi crew shook hands after crossing the finish line of the second race just off the Americas Cup Village on the site of a former Royal Navy base.

"We are excited to get out there and race", Burling said. "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". But we know that.

"The up-side, for us, is there's a lot of technology out there now", Spithill said.

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"Credit to Peter (Burling) and Emirates Team New Zealand because they made fewer mistakes to win both races", nodded Spithill, who remains as defiant as usual.

It looks like we have some good sailing days coming up over these next five days so we'll be into 24 hour shifts.

But Spithill insisted there was still room to make useful adjustments to the complicated systems that control the space-age craft, and to "appendages" including the massive fixed-wing sails, rudders and the daggerboards that allow the boats to foil - virtually flying with their twin hulls above the water surface.

"Clearly, we need to now put everything back on the table. This is not going to be anything less that a huge battle we are expecting".

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.

"That's what you have to do to win yacht races - you have to perform under pressure".

“This team has been here before, so its not over, ” Spithill said.

After going into the competition one point down, the New Zealanders needed to win eight races to win the America's Cup, the world's oldest global sporting competition. That was enough for Burling to speed away around the seven-leg course.

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