Paul Lewis on sport

Paul Lewis is the Herald on Sunday's Sport Editor

Paul Lewis: Steely Team NZ show how to bounce back from the brink and do the business

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Oracle Team USA came back to gain the upper hand against Team New Zealand. Photo / Abner Kingman
Oracle Team USA came back to gain the upper hand against Team New Zealand. Photo / Abner Kingman

It was like being in a car crash. It all happens very, very fast. You see it all very, very slow.

There is a moment of serenity, floating almost. Before the world seems to break and splinter around you.

That's what Emirates Team New Zealand's near-capsize was like for those watching yesterday. Talk about a moment hanging in time. It was a hull hanging in time; a nation aghast, willing the laws of physics to be broken.

Surely it had to go over - and with it over $100 million and years of America's Cup planning, designing, building, training and racing. A small country's David-like efforts would have been washed under the Goliath of the Golden Gate Bridge, the dream broken into bits of carbon-fibre, which is what happened to the last two AC72s to capsize in San Francisco Bay.

A damaged boat could possibly have been repaired. A sunken boat equals sunken hopes. Disaster.

Nah.

Did you see how Team New Zealand regrouped? No postponement card, no thought of a delay, no hesitation.

"We didn't need to go away and re-group," said tactician Ray Davies. "We regrouped on the water.

"I think the confidence we have in our own team to rebound was shown after that race," said skipper Dean Barker. "We didn't roll over and give up. It's good to get back on the horse.

"We led round the bottom mark and had reasonable control of that race [Race 9]. We know they have made changes and they look like they have improved a bit, yes, but we still feel we have an edge and we just have to make sure we use it."

If this Emirates Team NZ do win the 34th America's Cup, mark down this day as a key juncture.

To be so close to a disaster, a sort of America's Cup end of days, and to bounce right back and be leading the next race is champion stuff.

No panic, no hyperbole, no messed up heads - just straight back into sailing mode, win the start and gain a 7s lead, before the wind limits interceded and the race was called off.

Because of the near-capsize and Oracle Team USA's improved showing yesterday, many will figure there is life in this Cup match yet. Some will even be saying this could be a shift in momentum, that Oracle could sail back into this, even at 6-0 (they erased their two-race, two-point penalty yesterday).

Yeah, but ... nah.

Certainly yesterday showed that the America's Cup and the AC72s are entirely capable of producing the unexpected. Nothing can be taken for granted. Not even finishing, let alone winning.

But the percentages are still with ETNZ. They are sure their boat is still faster and point to the fact that Oracle Team USA's two wins have come on the back of ETNZ's sailing mistakes.

They acknowledge Oracle sailed better and look a bit faster upwind. They respect that. But that's it.

"We are very fortunate to have the boat back in one piece but it won't change the way we race," said Barker. "These boats make you push hard; it's the best way. We have had opportunities to win both the races we have lost; it is there for us to win - we just have to make sure we put the points on the board."

- NZ Herald

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