Kiwis beat Oracle in America's Cup opener in Bermuda

How technology helped America's Cup hit mainstream

Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand survived two heartstopping moments to win the first two races of the 35th America's Cup against Jimmy Spithill and two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA on the Great Sound on Saturday.

Oracle USA skipper, Jimmy Spithill, an Australian, is trying to win his third straight America's Cup before he turns 38.

New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling, 26, won both races against defending US champion Jimmy Spithill in an upset as the Kiwi team made a strong start in the first day of the first to seven competition.

But the Kiwis, the hard-luck losers to Oracle in 2013, later came off their foils during a difficult maneuver and slowed dramatically in light, shifty wind, losing half their lead. The American-backed crew benefited from a wind shift sailing upwind on leg five in Race 2 and made up a huge deficit, pulling right behind the Kiwis sailing through the gate mark.

Team New Zealand after their win in race number one.

Team New Zealand crushed Oracle in the second race of the day by more than a minute.

Spithill thinks the splashdown was caused by a problem with one of the rudders.




The final is a race to seven points, with New Zealand now 1-0 ahead of two races on Sunday. The Kiwis used the same foils they did in speeding to two victories on Saturday while the American-backed crew appeared to use two different foils. "We've got to get faster, it's very obvious", Spithill said.

Two races are scheduled on both days this weekend, beginning at 14:12 local time (1:12pm ET).

A member of Emirates Team New Zealand raises a sail before a sailing training session Friday, June 16, 2017, in Hamilton, Bermuda.

"I don't know what you're talking about", Spithill said, all mock innocence when asked about New Zealand media reports that two bow sections had been seen being carried from the Americans' base to that of SoftBank Team Japan, the vanquished would-be challenger with whom the U.S. have had a close working relationship.

Oracle Team USA's track record of performing when their backs are against the wall and the intervening five days should set up a fascinating showdown to the competition as both teams race to modify their boats and improve performance. He has won Olympic gold and silver medals with grinder Blair Tuke. During tacks and gybes, the cyclists unclip, run across the trampoline to the other hull and clip back in, powering the hydraulic systems that control the wingsail and raise and lower the daggerboards.

"I think it just shows that you guys will fall for anything", Spithill chuckled. "We feel we have got just as much chance to win this and we're going to do everything we can".

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