Burling and Kiwis claim advantage
Peter Burling, the Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman, has sounded an ominous warning to Oracle Team USA after insisting that the challengers are only going to improve.
The Kiwis moved into a 1-0 lead over Oracle after winning the first two races of the America’s Cup in the Great Sound yesterday.
Oracle, skippered by Jimmy Spithill, started with a one-point lead having won the qualifying regatta but saw that advantage wiped out by a dominant Team New Zealand in race one.
Burling also won the start in race two, making a mockery of his perceived starting-box problems, and again led Oracle for the entire race to give his team the edge heading into today’s two races.
Despite their impressive wins Burling said there is plenty of room of improvement, his team making too many errors, but believes they are only going to improve as the match races progress.
“We’ve said all along that we are learning all the time and although we won both races we got a lot wrong and made too many mistakes today,” said the 26-year-old.
“We will go away and look at what we need to improve because we all know for a fact that Jimmy [Spithill] won’t give up and so we have to keep progressing.
“We’ve known all along that to win the America’s Cup we had to win eight races and so to get two wins on the board already is fantastic.
“We’ll keep battling away and aim to get the remaining six wins needed as soon as possible.”
In the opening race Oracle were handed a penalty for crossing the start line slightly early, with the Kiwis punishing the defenders and opening up a comfortable lead of 1min 52sec by the fifth gate.
A poorly executed manoeuvre, however, in the closing stages almost let Spithill back into the race.
“It wasn’t actually our best manoeuvre,” Burling said. “The pleasing thing about it was that when everyone did scramble we still managed to get the job done no worries.
“We’re really happy with the way the guys kept their composure. It was a tricky, shifty day and if you made a small mistake it ended up being a costly one.”
Race two was a closer race although the Kiwis established a healthy lead of 01:34 by the fourth mark.
However, they once again gave Oracle a glimmer of hope as the defenders chopped their rival’s lead to just three seconds as they approached the fifth mark.
Spithill was unable to capitalise, though, and surrendered any gains his team had made after a poor gybe allowed the Kiwis to reestablish their lead.
“It was an interesting end to that beat,” Burling side. “We lost a lot, made some pretty bad manoeuvres, and got caught in some pretty bad breezes.
“We’ve got plenty to work on and improve on. We’re not happy with the way we sailed today, although we’re really pleased with the outcome.”
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