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America's Cup

ETNZ take lead after day 1 of America’s Cup Match

Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand have a 1-0 lead over the Defenders at the end of day one of the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton.

The Kiwi Challengers to Jimmy Spithill’s Oraccle Team USA took back-to-back victories in the first two races of the final stage of the 35th America’s Cup.

This puts 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.

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.

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

However, Burling did not have it all his own way and mistakes began to creep in.

Two poor manoeuvres reduced ETNZ’s advantage, giving Jimmy Spithill a slight hope of catching the Kiwis in the closing stages.

But, 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.

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In race 2, Peter Burling and ETNZ 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 ETNZ were still able to pull clear, establishing a lead of up to one minute, 34 seconds by the time they rounded mark four.

However, in the closing stages Oracle Team USA dramatically cut the gap to ETNZ 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, but it was not to be.

Having closed the gap, Oracle Team USA came down off their foils and that gave ETNZ the chance to re-establish their lead.

Burling guided his team around the sixth and final gate and coasted to the finish line an entire minute and 28 seconds ahead of 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’.

Despite relinquishing the point advantage they held at the beginning of the day, Jimmy Spithill is refusing to panic, especially with the experience of overturning an 8-1 deficit to the same opposition in 2013.

“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!”

Racing continues Sunday . . .

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