Emirates close in on title

Emirates Team New Zealand moved to the brink of capturing the America’s Cup with an eighth race victory on Wednesday before the potential clinching race was postponed by high winds.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 20 Sep 2013, 10:35 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 9:10 AM

The Kiwis need to beat defending champion Oracle Team USA just once more to claim yachting’s coveted trophy, with the next two races scheduled for Thursday.

New Zealand darted past Oracle to snatch a lead over the starting line in Wednesday’s second race before getting word from officials that the match was cancelled due to strong winds.

“It was not a certain thing that it would have turned into a win. We were happy to be in first position,” New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said, downplaying how close his team is to victory. “If we can get a win, that would be great.” New Zealand’s victory by 15 seconds in race 11 continued the humbling of billionaire yachtsman Larry Ellison and the team he is counting on to keep possession of the Cup.

New Zealand beat the Americans across the start and established a slight lead that lasted into the pivotal upwind third leg, where the rivals engaged in an intense tacking duel during which the Kiwis managed to fend off the hosts.

Oracle split the race at the third gate and opted for the opposite side of the course, closing the gap but eventually being cut off by the Kiwis on their way to victory. It was New Zealand’s eighth triumph in the best-of-17 series, putting them one win shy of the trophy while Oracle, penalized two points before the start for pre-regatta violations, must win eight times in a row to deny the Kiwis the Cup.

‘We’ve got one hell of a battle on our hands here, but stranger things have happened in sport,” said Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill. “It’s never over until it’s over. We won’t give up.” He contended that no matter how the event ends for Oracle, dueling on the San Francisco Bay with first-generation AC72 catamarans has proven to be a winning formula by adding excitement to the Cup.



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