America's Cup: Team NZ win two more races
AMERICA'S Cup boss Stephen Barclay said today would be "moving day" in the 34th Cup match - and it was Team New Zealand who made all the moves.
The Kiwi team are now just three wins away from claiming the Auld Mug after taking out both today's races over the battling defenders, Oracle Team USA.
After cutting Wednesday's racing short by playing their postponement card, Oracle returned to the racecourse today with a new-look afterguard, adding British Olympic great Ben Ainslie to the boat at the expense of veteran American John Kostecki.
But there was little Ainslie could do to counteract Team NZ's upwind power and slick manoeuvring, as Dean Barker's crew cruised to two easy wins by margins of 47 seconds and 1 minute and six seconds.
Team New Zealand lead Oracle 6-0 in the first-to-nine series, with the Cup holders, winners in race four, still needing to win another race before they can start scoring points as part of penalties imposed by the international jury.
Ainslie had a tough introduction to the America's Cup, with Team New Zealand out-witting the defenders with a masterful tactical performance upwind in the first race of the day.
Instead of relying on their upwind power as they have in previous races, it was clever tactics that paid off for them on the beat today.
Team NZ cruelly exploited Oracle's weakness in their manoeuvring, forcing Jimmy Spithill into a tacking duel upwind, with the Kiwi boat gaining a boat length in every tack. The duel was set-up by an aggressive play at the second cross as Team New Zealand, with the starboard advantage, pulled a dial down on Oracle, forcing them to dip lower to avoid the Kiwis.
From that point on Team NZ had control of the race, wearing the Oracle crew down with their relentless tacking.
But Dean Barker will have once again been disappointed with their start, after he trailed miscued his move in the start box and handed Spithill a seven seconds at the first mark.
After the limp start Team NZ got themselves back into the contest with two slick foiling gybes down the first run.
Barker would have been much happier with his effort in race seven, as the Kiwi boat charged out of the blocks to run over the top of Oracle who has positioned themselves at the leeward end of the line.
From there it was relatively straight forward for Team New Zealand as they completed a wire-to-wire win.