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Team NZ seize lead in America's Cup round-robin
04 June 2017, 06:32 | Rose Hansen
America's Cup: Skunked Again in Bermuda
Had Team New Zealand won Saturday's race, it would have clinched the bonus point if it made it through to the match. The New Zealand crew fought back but were unable to get ahead of Jimmy Spithill's team.
"The shore team got us in a position to win", he said.
It's just one of the radical departures from tradition in this America's Cup, which, perhaps fittingly, is being sailed on the northern tip of the Bermuda Triangle.
Oracle will sail against Land Rover BAR in the fourth and final race Saturday.
France, who as late challengers for the America's Cup were regarded as underdogs, face Sweden's Artemis Racing on Saturday.
"Team NZ have beaten BAR twice already this week, including the walkover on Friday (NZT), when the Kiwis nearly lapped their rivals, who withdrew with two legs remaining". That saw the Americans top the round-robin table and earn a bonus point for the America's Cup match at the end of the month.
Winds for the Louis Vuitton America's Cup qualifying races picked up in Bermuda's Great Sound from the gentle breezes which dominated the head-to-head racing on Thursday, allowing the 50-foot foiling catamarans to fly around the course.
Led by former Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, the crew is the first Japanese flagged challenger since 2000 and sponsor SoftBank has set its sights on "becoming the first Japanese team to win the America's Cup". But they have also lost to Team France, who will be eliminated from the regatta after today, and twice to Ben Ainslie Racing (GBR), who have struggled for form.
Both losses have come against Team USA, including Sunday's effort which was marred by three penalty offences which cost a total of six boat lengths.
That helped kill the drama in a rematch of the teams that met in the epic 2013 America's Cup match. The Kiwis reached match point at 8-1 and was way ahead in what would have been the deciding race, but it was abandoned after the time limit expired on a fluky day on San Francisco Bay. Oracle then won eight straight races in one of the greatest comebacks in sports to keep the Auld Mug.
"We are sailing a much better race now, we had two really good starts", Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outteridge said in a televised interview following his crew's victories over Oracle Team USA and SoftBank Team Japan.
With Burling calmly steering the fast catamaran, the Kiwis became the first crew to sail around the seven-leg course entirely on hydrofoils, with the hulls never touching the water until just after the finish line.
Team New Zealand took full advantage with two near-faultless performances.
Unlike Britain's Land Rover BAR and Groupama Team France who built their own boats from scratch, Japan bought their design from the USA holders of the cup.
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South Africa , however, then missed dangerman Stokes twice in his first two balls, with Maharaj again the unfortunate bowler. Earlier, England profited from at least six dropped catches after being sent into bat.
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