SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Dean Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand regained the momentum in the America's Cup when they pulled ahead of defending champion Oracle Team USA on the fourth leg to win Race 10 by 17 seconds Sunday on San Francisco Bay.
Team New Zealand, which almost capsized during a 52-second loss Saturday, leads 7-1 and needs two more wins to claim the Auld Mug for the second time in 18 years.
"I think if you didn't enjoy today's racing you should watch another sport," Barker said.
Monday is a lay day. If Team New Zealand sweeps Tuesday's two races weather permitting it will claim the Auld Mug for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for the second time in 18 years.
Even if it continues to split races, Team New Zealand can essentially run out the clock against Oracle Team USA, which brought the America's Cup back to the United States in 2010 after a 15-year absence.
"Exactly," said Barker, who added that there's "a lot of work to do still."
Oracle Team USA, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison, needs to win eight more races to keep the oldest trophy in international sports.
It entered the series with a two-point penalty for the biggest cheating scandal in the Cup's 162-year history.
Oracle led wire-to-wire to win Race 9 by 47 seconds earlier Sunday to seemingly regain the momentum. It was the first time this regatta that Oracle won consecutive races.
Barker turned momentum back the Kiwis' way at the first mark in Race 10. Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill had the acceleration but Barker just barely had the inside position heading into the mark and was able to keep his 72-foot catamaran overlapped. Team New Zealand led by 4 seconds turning onto the downwind second leg.
The New Zealanders extended the lead to 11 seconds sailing downwind, but the American boat continued to show improvement on the windward third leg and took a 1-second lead through the third gate.
The Kiwis went from almost even with Oracle to about 200 yards ahead after the American boat chose to slow and dip behind on the downwind fourth leg rather than gybe onto Team New Zealand.
"That was a really big point for us, yeah," Barker said after steering his 72-foot catamaran to a 17-second victory. "We definitely needed it."
Barker kept the lead as he rounded the fourth mark and sped to the finish line just off Pier 27-29.
"It was pretty close on that final run into the finish," said star British Olympic sailor Ben Ainslie, who replaced American John Kostecki as Oracle's tactician on Thursday.
Oracle won Race 9 decisively even after hitting something with its port rudder before the race. The shore crew repaired the top rudder bearing before the start and was making more repairs before Race 10.
Oracle had been getting stomped by the Kiwis sailing the only upwind leg on the course, but that changed since it made changes to its wing sail and jib setup to have the boat better balanced. The crew work improved along with the changes to the catamaran.
At one point on the windward leg in Race 9, as the boats zigzagged toward the Golden Gate Bridge, Ainslie was heard to say, "Lovely tack."
Does Oracle wish it had made the changes earlier?
"We wish we'd made them about a year ago, to be honest," Spithill said. "Then we might have found a few more. Look, this is the name of the game. This is a development boat. Like any racing sport, whether it be Formula One or MotoGP, you're constantly learning at a race mode. We finally get to the race now and this is the most we've learned, really. Hindsight's a beautiful thing, but the important thing is how you react and how you go from here on. Even after today we've got a heap of stuff that we'd like to do to the boat."
On Sunday morning, Spithill tweeted a picture of a message that apparently was posted at the syndicate base to fire up the sailing team. The message included an expletive. He later deleted it after having a talk with America's Cup CEO Stephen Barclay.
"If you get offended easily, you should probably stay away from the social media world," Spithill said.
He added that it was "all in good nature."
Mentioning Kiwi wing trimmer Glenn Ashby, a fellow Australian who coached Oracle during the 2010 America's Cup, Spithill said: "Glenn up here is one of my best mates. When we're on the water there, probably the biggest enemies. When you're on the water you want to really kill the guy, and then you come on shore, especially at the end of the competition, regardless of the result, you get together and you have a couple of beers together. Depending who wins, you congratulate the guy and vice versa. That's what sport's all about. The last thing I want to do is offend any of the guys. I've got a lot of mates in New Zealand."
Ashby said he didn't see Spithill's tweet.
"I'd rather go and sit on the beach and drink beer than sit at my computer on Facebook or Twitter, to be honest," Ashby said.
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This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings