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Heart-stopping Cup action on day 2

The second day of Challenger Finals finished with a heart-stopping dash for the finish line.

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Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand finished the day with a 4-2 lead over Nathan Outteridge's Artemis Racing in the series.

But it was far from easy, with the winning delta on the final race of the day less than 2-seconds.

The series will go into Monday with Artemis living dangerously. The first team to earn five points will advance to the America’s Cup Match against two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA.

In the first race of the day, race 4, with a strong breeze an even start saw Artemis gap off to the windward side of ETNZ to take the high-speed option and lead into mark one for the fourth consecutive time in the series.

At the bottom gate, the Swedish lead was just 5-seconds, with Burling keeping the pressure on, following Outteridge through the gate.

Building a 200-metre lead, Outteridge was content to sail his own race but a very poor tack near the top gate allowed Burling to close the deficit right up.

The Artemis Racing boat reared up into the air coming out of a tack and crashed hard into the water. Burling and his Kiwis almost made the pass, but this time, Artemis Racing recovered - just in time - and protected through to the finish.

The 15-second win saw the series tied at 2-2.

In the second race Artemis led across the starting line and past mark one. ETNZ elected to take a split at the bottom gate and when the boats converged, Outteridge tried to slam a tight covering tack on the Kiwis, but Burling took the high road, pinching up to a safe and strong position approaching the boundary.

When the boats tacked again, the Kiwis were in a powerful leeward position and with rights, Burling luffed hard, forcing Outteridge to tack. The extra maneuver gave the lead to the Kiwis who soon crossed ahead to round the windward gate with a 13-second lead.

From there, it was straight-forward to the finish. Burling and the Kiwis extended to take the win and a 3-2 series lead. The Swedes retired from the race to give themselves more time to effect some repairs to a sticking control button.

Final race of the day and both boats crossed the starting line at speed in a neutral start, but with better pace and the leeward position on the reach with a 3-second lead around mark one and then a 7-second lead through the bottom gate.

At the bottom gate, Outteridge was less than 2-seconds behind and as the boats turned upwind the Swedish bows were just meters from the stern of the Kiwi boat.

But in disturbed air, Artemis Racing was forced to tack away. When the boats next converged, Burling had again extended to a more comfortable lead, always sailing a closer angle to the top gate where he held a 16-second lead.

It was at this point, jst when the race appeared to be in hand for the Kiwis, the team appeared to lose control on the final gybe (due to a lack of hydraulic power) and the boat came off the foils.

This set up a dramatic sprint to the finish, with Artemis sweeping in to briefly nose ahead, but Burling got the boat back on its foils and with the faster angle, crossed the line just over one-second ahead of the fast charging Swedish boat.

They will race again on Monday for the decider.

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Gerald New - Sailweb
11 June 2017 19:44 GMT


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