Team NZ take charge of America's Cup final

GILLES MARTIN-RAGET /ACEA 2017 
 
   There is no shortage of New Zealand flags in the America's Cup village in Bermuda as support builds for the Kiwi team

GILLES MARTIN-RAGET /ACEA 2017 There is no shortage of New Zealand flags in the America's Cup village in Bermuda as support builds for the Kiwi team

The first race in the contest to win the world's oldest sporting trophy was fought out on Bermuda's Great Sound by Oracle Team USA, skippered by Jimmy Spithill and Emirates Team New Zealand, helmed by Peter Burling.

“The motivation is always there, ” said Spithill, who is trying to win the Americas Cup for the third straight time before he turns 38. He's part of the massive Team New Zealand overhaul that followed that crushing reversal.

Their Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill reverenced the remarkable fightback to beat Team NZ 9-8 in the Cup Match San Francisco four years ago, reminding the Kiwis to take nothing for granted. There are four cycling stations on each hull.

The New Zealand Herald's Rod Emmerson entered the scrum with a cartoon of a Kiwi dismembering an eagle, with the caption: "Looks like a bald eagle. talks like a parrot. tastes like a kangaroo".

In 1986, Dennis Conner accused the Kiwis of cheating when they built a 12 meter out of fiberglass.

“Weve got some good sailing days coming up over these next five days and we will be under 24-hour shifts. "You're a loser. Get off the stage". Oracle TeamUSA still has the trophy at the Golden Gate Yacht Club.

As spot on as Spithill can be on the water, he's a master behind a microphone. He excels at playing mind games at news conferences. Down 7-1, Spithill was asked how he and his team could stay motivated.

In 2013, watching Dean Barker face the media, defeat after defeat, was to watch a skipper who seemed to know there was little he could do with the boat he had.

"I think everything's on the table, no two ways about it".

"The easterly is a tricky direction", Spithill said. "What an upset that would be". They have nearly got it in the bag. "That would be one hell of a story, that would be one hell of a comeback and that's the kind of thing that I'd like to be part of".

"It's pretty pleasing for us as a group to be able to win by that much with so many errors around the track", Burling said before the contenders headed out for race two.

It's a spectacle that would be unrecognizable to America's Cup sailors of even two decades ago - and other-worldly to those of 1851, when a syndicate of NY businessmen sailed the schooner America across the Atlantic and humbled the best of the British fleet in a race around the Isle of Wight in what marked the birth of the America's Cup. There has been the odd close moment, but the Kiwis have undoubtedly been faster on every point of sail, simply sailing away from ORACLE TEAM USA.

The two-time defending Americas Cup champions are foundering badly against hotshot young helmsman Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand, who are threatening to sail — and cycle — away with the oldest trophy in global sports.

They also snapped a 10-race losing streak to Oracle, including eight at the end of the 2013 regatta and two in the round-robins this year.

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