America's Cup racing is back on the San Francisco Bay today as Team Oracle USA faces an uphill battle against Team New Zealand.
The Kiwis lead 6 to minus-1, with Races 8 and 9 scheduled for Saturday starting at 1:15 p.m. on NBC Bay Area.
The wind could be a problem for Race 2. Race officials said wind is expected to be near the top end of the range at 19-23 knots. "It's going to be windy today," PRO John Craig said.
Thousands of New Zealanders swarmed the waterfront to cheer on their boys. The Kiwis need just three more wins to take the Cup out of the hands of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
"We all want to win the thing massively and bring it back to New Zealand. It's been a huge driver for the whole team,'' said Team New Zealand crewmember Glenn Ashby. "We've been amazed by the support of not only the New Zealanders, but by a lot of the Americans as well, getting behind us, which is fantastic.''
The winning race could come as early as Sunday.
Friday was a lay day as both teams worked on their 72-foot catamarans following two more decisive wins by Emirates Team New Zealand on Thursday on San Francisco Bay.
Team USA has won only one race and is still in minus territory after being docked two points in the biggest cheating scandal in the 162-year-history of the America's Cup.
USA skipper Jimmy Spithill acknowledged after Thursday's two losses that Oracle was shocked to find out how fast the Kiwis are upwind. There's only one upwind leg on the five-leg course, and it's on that stretch, between Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge, where the Kiwis are punishing Oracle with both speed and boat-handling skill.
Oracle was swept Thursday even after replacing tactician John Kostecki who had been one of only two Americans on the 11-man crew with British Olympic star Ben Ainslie.
"To beat them, we obviously have to sail a flawless race and even then it's a struggle,'' Ainslie said Friday at the team base. "But we have won a race against them. We can do it. It is possible. Who knows, if we can win a couple of races and change some momentum, all of a sudden ... I think the Kiwis definitely feel they've got one, if not one hand and a couple of fingers, on this trophy. To suddenly take a couple of races off them, psychologically that could be tough for them.''