America's Cup: Emirates Team New Zealand made to wait for victory by more bad weather


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The Independent Online

Tomorrow never comes and nor did the handover of the America's Cup for New Zealand as, once again, only one race could be staged as the wind rose above maximum permitted strength.

That one race was won by the San Francisco-based defender, Oracle Team USA, leaving Emirates Team New Zealand on match point in the 34th, first to nine wins one-on-one final.

A combined net speed of 23 knots, taking into account the tidal factor, was imposed by race director Iain Murray after British Olympic gold medallist Andrew Simpson was killed in a training crash on the eliminated Swedish challenger, Artemis.

It was one of 37 measures taken and agreed with the United States Coast Guard. Trouble is that television is fixed for a time which weather records show would always be close to the limit.

Murray is reluctant to go back to the USCG, which issues the permit to race on San Francisco Bay, and he would also need the agreement of both teams. Over the past few days, from being six to minus one down - Oracle was docked two points for earlier boat tampering - the Americans have been improving performance and talking about fighting for one of the biggest comebacks in the cup's history.

Hotel bookings and flights home are being changed on a daily basis, a quarter of the New Zealand population is taking time out to watch television coverage in their mornings, mainly of working age but even the schools are switching on, and the Californian organisers are praying it will run into another weekend to generate big crowds.  

With the cup in their grasp the Kiwis needed to win the start in the first match-point encounter of the day but Spithill managed to cash in on both the advantage of entering the start area from the favoured side and then Barker trying to take the initiative too early.

Spithill could then hook his boat underneath Barker, push the Kiwis into a slow manoeuvre to avoid being too early at the line and then dive away to have the lead by five seconds at the first turning mark.

From then on Spithill could choose his best way round the five-leg course, sailing faster and a shorter distance, especially downwind, and looking comfortably in control for the rest of the race. It is a common mantra to say in many sports that you take one game, one race at a time, and Oracle duly banked the win by 31 seconds to make it 8 - 2.

Seven more wins without defeat is still a tall order. The Americans like tall orders.