Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

America's Cup: Team NZ take 5-1 lead

Team New Zealand have taken their fifth point of the Louis Vuitton finals after another underwhelming race that was effectively over at the first mark.

Struggling to match the Kiwi boat for speed in the light conditions, after the start Luna Rossa weren't even sighted on the same stretch of the race course as their rivals.

After positioning themselves at the weather end of the startline, Team New Zealand surged past the Italians to lead by 10 seconds at the first mark. Maintaining their slick execution in the light, shifty conditions, Team New Zealand extended their lead at every mark to claim a convincing one minute, 57 second win.

The strong winds initially forecast for today's sixth race did not eventuate, with the breeze topping out at around 14 knots, creating marginal foiling conditions. While it was initially thought Team New Zealand's boat would struggle in light air, they once again proved today they were comfortable in that mode. Luna Rossa however, are clearly much more competitive with the Kiwi boat in heavier air.

Frustrated by the obvious speed differential between the two boats, Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper was in no mood for post-race analysis. Asked what happened at the start when Team New Zealand rolled straight over top of them, Draper responded:

"It would be nice to win a start, the reality is whether we start to leeward or start to windward, they still pass us on the reach," he said.

"The frustrating thing is it's not mistakes we're making here that is costing us, it is mistakes that were made months and months ago.

Leading the finals 5-1, Team New Zealand are now just two wins away from securing the Louis Vuitton Cup and moving on to an America's Cup match with Oracle.

But their hopes of wrapping the finals up tomorrow do not look promising at this stage, with regatta director Iain Murray describing tomorrow's forecast as "fresh to frightening". A breeze of around 25-30 knots is expected and with an outgoing tide later in the day, there is likely only a small window of opportunity to squeeze in one of the two scheduled races.

"We'll either get it away on time, or we won't get it away at all," said Murray.

- NZ Herald

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