Team NZ one win away, but will have to wait

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Team New Zealand may have taken out one of the most exciting races in America's Cup history but will have to wait until tomorrow for a chance to wrap up the series.

In the tightest race of the America's Cup thus far, a course split on the penultimate leg saw them find the better weather which they used to sail through to their sixth win of the best-of-13 series.

From the outset, the teams were vying for the upper hand. Through the first two legs there had been three lead changes in what was an exciting start to Tuesday's racing.

The race came down to the fifth leg, and a choice from Luna Rossa on which side of the course to control. They opted for the left, and Team New Zealand found the pressure they needed on the right.

It was almost an immediate payoff for the Kiwis who went on to sail across the finish line 30 seconds ahead of the Italians to move just one win from retaining their title.

It was a devastating way for things to unfold for Luna Rossa, who had sailed a perfect race up until that fifth leg and after crossing the finish line, co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill addressed his team with a simple "sorry, boys."

The splits at every gate told the story of just how close the race was, with Luna Rossa leading the first four legs by less than 10-second margins, before the split in the fifth saw Team New Zealand take control with an 18-second lead at the fifth gate.

"It was a pretty tight race all in all and one right shift up that last beat really decided it for us," Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said after the race.

"It was good fun racing. It was great to be back in here on Course C and having a great battle with a really good team, but great to come away with another win too.

"We're just going out to try to keep learning and improving and doing the best we can. Obviously We're here to try win yacht races, but we'll keep fighting for as long as it takes."

AUT Sailing Professor Mark Orams said it was good luck and good management from the Kiwis.

"That was one of the best America's Cup races you will ever see," said Orams. "Two great teams just fighting it out, with everything they had, some great defensive moves from the Italians, but in the end they were beaten by the relentless attacking from the Kiwis. They eventually cracked them."

Jan Shearer said: "Luna Rossa will be a bit frightened by Team New Zealand's speed. Prada hung in there which is pretty impressive."

The second race of the day was eventually abandoned when changing winds prevented race officials from reconfiguring the course before the 6pm deadline. 

Gate margins
Gate 1: LR 1sec
Gate 2: LR 8sec
Gate 3: LR 9sec
Gate 4: LR 3sec
Gate 5: NZ 18sec
Final: NZ 30sec

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