Kiwis lay down challenge in America's Cup

Oracle Team USA skipper and helmsman Jimmy Spithill, right, and teammates look on as they trail Emirates Team New Zealand, left, during the third race of America's Cup competition, Sunday, June 18, 2017, in Hamilton, Bermuda.

The Kiwis started this series on minus-one point because they were the challengers, but four wins from the opening four races as them well-placed for victory.

After going into the competition one point down, the New Zealanders needed to win eight races to win the America's Cup, the world's oldest global sporting competition.

Oracle launched a protest, unhappy with misreading the situation, before the race officials sided against the cup holders as Team New Zealand strolled home to win by 49 seconds.

"The motivation is always there, the team is hungry and we're a very competitive group, but we are also a candid group and it is quite clear we need to make some changes".

PETER Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand are cruising in the 35th America's Cup.

But tension grew in race four as mechanical issues set Team NZ back just before the start line.

Despite starting one point behind in the competition, Team NZ now look to be on the right track to be the first to seven as they edge 3-0 points ahead of Team USA on day two.

But Emirates Team New Zealand was able to live with Oracle Team USA, and after both boats flew to mark 1 nearly level the Kiwi yacht found a click more pace to take the lead.

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"Clearly, now we need to put everything back on the table".

Publicly both teams say they can do more with their boats.

Analysis - Could this be the "San Francisco moment" when an ascendant Team New Zealand is savaged by a revitalised Oracle TeamUSA? Coutts successfully defended the Americas Cup in 2000 before jumping to Swiss startup syndicate Alinghi of Switzerland and sweeping his former team in 2003.

"We've got a couple of good starts, the boat's going really fast and the boys are doing a good job to get it around the racetrack nice and smoothly", said Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling.

The USA were able to capitalize on a wind shift to narrow the gap dramatically, but a poor manoeuvre cost them and New Zealand went on to win comfortably. "We know if we stand still these guys will be catching us".

The Americans will spend their time poring over the data and trying to work out what changes they can make to their foil and rudder packages to eke out extra boat speed.

Team New Zealand needs four wins, Oracle TeamUSA seven. He said Oracle's setup with tactician Tom Slingsby, another hard-nosed Aussie, was much better than the Kiwi boat.

The five day break is a boon, added Spithill, who noted that the team didn't have almost that much time in 2013 when they were staring down defeat while trailing New Zealand 1-8 in San Francisco.

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