Team New Zealand is now just one win away from taking the 34th America's Cup. Laurence Scott reports.
Team New Zealand's start to finish win in Race 11 moved the Kiwi's officially to "match point" in the 34th America’s Cup.
Team New Zealand is now just one win away from taking the cup out of the hands of Oracle Team USA who faces elimination on its home turf.
Both teams were jockeying for position on the start line of Race 12 when the race committee called it off to due high winds. The wind strength had exceeded the prescribed 20-knot limit, forcing the Kiwis to wait until tomorrow for a chance to close out the series.
That means the team from down under will have to wait until at least Thursday afternoon to compete in what could be a deciding Race 12.
“Every win here is so hard, they’re monumental battles, so you’re thankful for every win you get,” said New Zealand Dean Barker. “We had a bit of an idea how to attack it and it worked out as well as it could have. We had a nice little jump, sailed a good first run, at the bottom mark another split and backwards and forwards after that. We were happy to sneak away with another win.”
Emirates Team New Zealand leads the America's Cup Finals 8-1 in the best to 9 series.
"It’s not over; it’s a long way from over,” said Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill. “Both teams would’ve liked to sail the second race, but Iain (Murray, Regatta Director) has to stick by the limits that are set.”
Team New Zealand controlled the only race of the day at the start and led the whole way, building his lead on the crucial upwind third leg toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
Oracle had been sailing better on the course's only upwind leg but couldn't quite reel in the Kiwis on Wednesday. Team New Zealand led by 6 seconds at the second gate mark and extended it to 17 seconds at the third gate as it rounded back onto the downwind leg.
The Kiwis watched their lead of about 200 meters shrink to around 70 meters as the boats raced downwind on their foils, their hulls completely out of the water.
Neither crew had a good rounding of the fourth gate, yet the Kiwis sprinted first down the final reaching leg to the finish off America's Cup Park on Pier 27-29. As usual, there were hundreds of flag-waving New Zealanders cheering them on.
The race began in about 17 knots of wind blowing against a 2-knot tide flowing out to sea. Racing was postponed Tuesday because of strong winds blowing against the ebb tide.
Barker was at the helm in 2003 when hard-luck Team New Zealand was swept in five races by its former skipper, Russell Coutts, and Alinghi of Switzerland. The Kiwis had to drop out of two races with breakdowns.
Three years earlier, after Coutts had delivered Team New Zealand to a 4-0 lead over Italy's Luna Rossa, he handed the wheel to Barker for the final race, which the Kiwis easily won.
Coutts is now CEO of Oracle Team USA. In 1995, Coutts and the late Peter Blake led Team New Zealand to a 5-0 win over Dennis Conner off San Diego as the small island national claimed the Cup for the first time.
Now Barker needs just one more victorious sprint around San Francisco Bay to reclaim the silver trophy for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
The winds also proved to be too much for America's Cup racing limits Tuesday and forced race officials to cancel both races due to an excess of the prescribed wind limit.
Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA each won one race Sunday, leaving New Zealand with a 7-1 lead in the best to nine series.
When we left the races on Sunday, Dean Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand appeared to have the momentum back as they pulled ahead of defending champion Oracle Team USA on the final race of the day.
Team Oracle won the first race of Sunday and the only completed race of Saturday.
Oracle Team USA, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison, still needs to win eight more races to keep the oldest trophy in international sports. It entered the series with a two-point penalty for the biggest cheating scandal in the Cup's 162-year history.