'Frightening speed': Team NZ win 'one of best races in Cup history'

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Mar 2021, 3:45PM
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

'Frightening speed': Team NZ win 'one of best races in Cup history'

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Mar 2021, 3:45PM

The weather Gods have smiled on Team New Zealand.

In the tightest contest of the America's Cup match thus far, a course split on the penultimate leg saw them find the better weather which they used to sail through to their sixth win of the best-of-13 series.

From the outset, the teams were vying for the upper hand. Through the first two legs there had been three lead changes in what was an exciting start to Tuesday's racing.

The race came down to the fifth leg, and a choice from Luna Rossa on which side of the course to control. They opted for the left, and Team New Zealand found the pressure they needed on the right.

It was almost an immediate payoff for the Kiwis who went on to sail across the finish line 30 seconds ahead of the Italians to move just one win from retaining their title.

It was a devastating way for things to unfold for Luna Rossa, who had sailed a perfect race up until that fifth leg and after crossing the finish line, co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill addressed his team with a simple "sorry, boys."

The splits at every gate told the story of just how close the race was, with Luna Rossa leading the first four legs by less than 10-second margins, before the split in the fifth saw Team New Zealand take control with an 18-second lead at the fifth gate.

"It was a pretty tight race all in all and one right shift up that last beat really decided it for us," Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said after the race.

"It was good fun racing. It was great to be back in here on Course C and having a great battle with a really good team, but great to come away with another win too.

"We're just going out to try to keep learning and improving and doing the best we can. Obviously We're here to try win yacht races, but we'll keep fighting for as long as it takes."

AUT Sailing Professor Mark Orams said it was good luck and good management from the Kiwis.

"That was one of the best America's Cup races you will ever see," said Orams. "Two great teams just fighting it out, with everything they had, some great defensive moves from the Italians, but in the end they were beaten by the relentless attacking from the Kiwis. They eventually cracked them."

Jan Shearer said: "Luna Rossa will be a bit frightened by Team New Zealand's speed. Prada hung in there which is pretty impressive."

Gate margins
Gate 1: LR 1sec
Gate 2: LR 8sec
Gate 3: LR 9sec
Gate 4: LR 3sec
Gate 5: NZ 18sec
Final: NZ 30sec