Dana Johannsen on sport

Dana Johannsen is a Herald sport writer

Dana Johanssen: White flag a morale boost for Kiwis

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After Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill boldly claimed his team had snatched the momentum from Team New Zealand following Monday's win in Race 4, his concession yesterday that the Kiwi boat has a clear edge drastically alters the psychology of the contest.

The teams each have one opportunity to enforce a postponement during the Cup match, and Oracle played their card after Race 5.

While the Kiwi team are sticking with their "one race at a time" mantra, tactician Ray Davies said the crew would take a lot of confidence from knowing they had the defenders rattled.

"It's a huge boost for the team. With a day off, we'll sleep easy for the next two nights and they'll have a tough time of it. There's a lot of pressure on those guys," he said.

While many in New Zealand were celebrating early, Team NZ skipper Dean Barker had a typically cautious response to Oracle's predicament - "We've still got a lot of races to win."

But he admitted he was happy with the position his team were in. He said Oracle were fast running out of time to make any changes to their boat - and any changes they did make would come with trade-offs in other areas.

"The good thing is they're obviously a little bit rattled now and they've got to make some big decisions because they'll probably try to shut down the advantage that we have upwind, but there's obviously other things that go with that."

Spithill has been upfront about his team's position. Oracle could have feigned problems with the boat and limped back to the shed. But they called it for what it was - a strategic play.

The plucky Aussie skipper remains confident, outwardly at least, that his team can get back into the match. They will be back out on the water training on today's rest day trying to iron out some of the kinks in their boat-handling.

"We need some time to really assess our programme and the boat and we need to get it heading in the other direction," he said. "Fortunately we've got the time, and fortunately we've got a lot of races left. We're doing everything we can to win."

- NZ Herald

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