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Spithill, Oracle get swagger back with 1st America's Cup win

25 June 2017

Spithill skippered two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA to its first victory of the regatta, taking a thriller in Race 6 to earn a split Saturday and slow the momentum of Emirates Team New Zealand.

But in the second race there were no such errors and Spithill, who was wearing a bandage on his wrist after injuring it during a hard week's training, got away at the start.

But defending champions the US replied with their first win of the best-of-13 series in race six in Bermuda. Because Oracle won the qualifiers, the Kiwis started this America's Cup final on the Great Sound with a negative point.

The final is a repeat of the last time the trophy was contested in 2013, when Team USA came from 8-1 down to win 9-8.

Team New Zealand's boat could become even faster.

The America's cup might not be the economic boom Bermuda expected.

Team USA accelerated clear off the start line to lead around mark one and two for the first time.

“If you have half a brain and you know that your legs are stronger than your arms, why wouldnt you give it a go?” van Velthooven said.

Spithill started sailing young and at the age of 20 was named skipper of Young Australia for the 2000 America's Cup, becoming the youngest helmsman in the history of the event, which is the oldest trophy in worldwide sport.

New Zealand made some very aggressive choices with this boat and they have paid off, but today Oracle seemed to have better speed than the first two races.

But although the New Zealanders got away, the USA champions recovered well and fought their way back into the race, finding the speed which had evaded them in previous encounters.

Team NZ, who need three more wins to secure victory, had made few apparent changes to their boat during the five-day break after having opened up a 3-0 lead.

"I think he always had a good knack of making a boat sail fast, whatever that knack is its probably an unseen skill, it's probably nearly instinctive", says Nick.

Peter Burling said: “The great boat we have got a little bit quicker.”.

While an Auckland cup would be more expensive for some sponsors and create challenges for televising the event in some countries, sponsors such as Land Rover which supports Britain's BAR team do not see it as a deal breaker.

"I think we should send them to Hollywood", he said. "We're just continually refining it, which should make it a little faster and easier to sail as well - so we can sail more precisely".

However, Oracle Team USA's new-found speed paid dividends on leg 5/7 as they cut the gap to their rivals and engaged in close-quarter racing. "We had a few issues in the first race, even in the second race we had a pretty good lead and we lost it again".

Team New Zealand was the only syndicate that didn't sign a framework agreement that calls for the next two America's Cup regattas to be sailed in catamarans in 2019 and 2021.

Spithill, Oracle get swagger back with 1st America's Cup win