America's Cup: Emirates Team New Zealand take commanding lead

Kiwis now have six of the nine wins they need to claim the 1851 trophy for the first time in 10 years

San Francisco

Rocky, Top Gun, and John Wayne combined will be needed to dig devastated America's Cup defender Oracle Team USA out of the fiery pit into which they have been consigned by the rampant challenge from Emirates Team New Zealand.

The Kiwis went six to one up, in reality still minus one because of penalties, on their drive towards the nine wins they need to take the 1851 trophy home again after an absence of 10 years.

Such was the confidence of the silver fern team that in race seven, the second of the day, they could afford to play the fastest way up the track on San Francisco Bay instead of concentrating just on racing the opposition.

The defenders had exited the contest after race five to “regroup”, fired their tactician John Kostecki, whose home waters these are, and replaced him with Britain's all-time greatest sailing Olympian, the recently knighted Ben Ainslie. That left just one American in the 11-man Oracle crew, Rome Kirby.

But the Kiwis even won the start of the second race, “very happy” skipper Dean Barker sliding over the top of his Australian-born rival Jimmy Spithill, rounding the first mark two seconds ahead, extending that to seven at the bottom of the course, and then turning the knife with an extra 49 seconds on leg three.

At a net 56 seconds and over a kilometre ahead, Spithill and Ainslie, plus Australian strategist Tom Slingsby, became understudies in a command performance which may not have long to run. At the finish it was one minute and six seconds.

The New Zealanders need just three more wins, there are four races scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, and the “Auld Mug” could be back in its showcase at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland by next weekend.

The first race had almost gone to script. Spithill was sharper on the start after Barker had tried to push him with a singular lack of success, took the lead at the first mark by nine seconds and stretched that to 12 seconds at the bottom of the course.

The Kiwis had been looking for a chance to split away, took it when offered at the start of the upwind work on leg three and there was little that Oracle could then do.

Ainslie was not in a position to dictate the tactics, many recalling a mantra attributed nearly half a century ago to sailmaker Ted Hood - “boat speed makes you a tactical genius.” TNZ had the speed and just carved relentlessly into Oracle's lead.

From a 12-second deficit TNZ built a 44-second advantage at the top of the course in the shadow of Golden Gate Bridge.

The net gain of 46 seconds was just too big a task for Oracle, which finally crossed the line 47 seconds astern.

“They have some wheels and a half,” said Spithill afterwards, adding: “Ben did a great job.”

His tactical counterpart Ray Davies said: “We got a split at the bottom, which was pretty important. Then we enjoyed little gains in wind pressure and little gains in the tacks.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)