America's Cup: Oracle hit back

By Dana Johannsen

Oracle Team USA bounced back from a demoralising loss in this morning's opening race to claim their first win of the America's Cup as the points were shared on day two of racing.

In the tightest race we've seen all summer in San Francisco, Oracle edged Team New Zealand by just eight seconds in race four. With the teams heading into a rest day tomorrow, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill was under the pump to pick up a win in race four after Dean Barker and his crew earlier notched up their third straight win the Cup match in the opening race of the day. The scoreline still officially stands at 3-0, with Oracle copping a two-point penalty from the international jury last week, but Spithill said the win is a major psychological boost for his crew.

The relief in the team was evident as the crossed the finish line after they gave up a handy lead in race three, allowing the Kiwis to roll over top of them on the upwind leg.

Spithill said for his team to respond the way they did in the fourth race showed the their fighting qualities.

"We were pretty fired up and disappointed with the first one, we had a great race with Team New Zealand but it just sort of slipped through our fingers," he said.

"It was a real sign of strength I thought from the guys to be able to bounce back from a situation like that having lost three in a row."

"Going into the break tomorrow it's a real confidence booster from the boys."

After looking impressive upwind in yesterday's opening races, Team New Zealand's upwind advantage over Oracle Team USA was further underlined in race three, after they pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind victory. Trailing by 18 seconds at the bottom mark, the Kiwis won produced a masterclass of upwind sailing, showing better boatspeed, crew-work and tactics to reel in the Oracle boat and take a 29 second lead at mark three leaving the defenders with too much ground to make up over the final run.

Team NZ were unable to get themselves out of jail in the fourth race though, with a poor start ultimately costing them. Spithill did an impressive job with his time-on-distance hitting the start-line at speed in full foiling mode, while Barker looked slightly late.

The Kiwi crew battled hard to get themselves back in the race, but did not look as comfortable in the windier conditions later in the day, struggling to keep the boat stable on a couple of occasions. Team NZ skipper Dean Barker said while he was disappointed with some of the errors the team made, he hopes the loss will keep them sharp.

"We could have done things a lot better than we could and the things that we take out of the second race was that by our standards we sailed a pretty average race, and we were still pretty close at the end," he said.

"We're still pretty happy with the way the boats are going, we just need to eliminate those little mistakes."

Racing resumes on Wednesday with two further races scheduled.

Team New Zealand need six more wins to claim the America's Cup, while Oracle need to win 10.

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