Three burning questions: How crucial are the race starts?

Sailing reporters Paul Lewis and Dana Johannsen answer three burning questions after another dramatic day on the water in the 34th America's Cup.

Why are Oracle suddenly more competitive?
Paul Lewis: Better crew work, more time on the water and rising confidence. They may also have done something to their boat but, whatever it is, it's not visible and not structural. They also seem to sail better on an outgoing tide and in higher winds.
Dana Johannsen: They seem to excell in the heavier breeze, while Team NZ's sweet spot is more in the 16-19 knot range. The Oracle crew have also improved their boat handling as you would expect with more time on the race course.

Is it now crucial that Team NZ wins the start?
PL: Yes, with the races being staged in an outgoing tide, winning the start becomes even more crucial as there are fewer passing opportunities once a lead is established.
DJ: Yes. With the boats looking more evenly matched upwind and Oracle growing in confidence with their manoeuvring, Team NZ aren't being handed the opportunities they were earlier on in the series. They need to dictate the race from the start.

How important was that second win for Team NZ?
PL: Mightily. It halted the momentum Oracle were gaining and will have told the Kiwis that they can win in these conditions - high winds and an ebb tide.

DJ: It was a huge win under huge pressure. Had Oracle got two points in the bag from today it would have flipped the momentum of the series.

- NZ Herald

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