Three questions: Team NZ suffer defeat

We put three key questions to sailing reporters Paul Lewis and Dana Johannsen after Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA split races 3 and 4 of the America's Cup today.

After three races, it looked like Team NZ had it in the bag; do we now have a genuine race on our hands?

Paul: Yes, crew performance was always going to be an issue and, in race 4, Oracle Team USA sailed better and Team NZ made some mistakes, especially on their favoured upwind beat. All that technology - but the sailors still make it work.

Dana: It was always going to be unlikely that one team would get through the Cup match unbeaten. But the relative performances of the two boats shows that the regatta is going to be extremely competitive. Team NZ looked a bit jittery in the windier conditions in race four, I have to say.

If you find yourself behind, is the upwind leg your only realistic chance of passing?

Paul: Pretty much, unless someone makes a mistake, buries a hull or makes a mess of a foiling gybe...the boats' speed downwind is similar though there was a hint today that Oracle might be quicker when the wind is blowing harder. More time, more races required before we can know that.

Dana: The upwind leg seems to be where more opportunities are created for passing. Given both boats are fairly similar in performance downwind, the trailing boat would probably need the other team to make a mistake, to be able to pass.

Why did Oracle dominate the pre-start today?

Paul: It was a kind of drag race start where Jimmy Spithill backed his boat speed, opted for the inside lane round the short first mark, found some breeze that Team NZ didn't and shot out to a lead they held on to this time.

Dana: Jimmy Spithill did a good job with his starts today, but both were different. Race three was pretty even, with only half a metre the difference between Team NZ being penalised or not. In race four Oracle did a great job with their time on distance and had more boatspeed and momentum as they crossed the line.

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