America's Cup: Loss adds to tension, excitement

Spectators watch Race 12 against Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand , Oracle won Race 12 of the America's Cup, on San Francisco Bay, San Francisco. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
Spectators watch Race 12 against Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand , Oracle won Race 12 of the America's Cup, on San Francisco Bay, San Francisco. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

Today's disappointment on the water has only added to the tension and excitement of the America's Cup, with support for tomorrow's race expected to be the biggest of the week.

The battle for the Auld Mug took another nail-biting twist this morning as Team USA clinched the first race in San Francisco, before the second was postponed due to high winds.

Hundreds of supporters packed out the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's base at Westhaven Marina in Auckland to watch the action, hoping it would be the winning moment. Optimism was high.

A buzz of excitement filled the clubhouse before the race began, as fans of all ages - many sporting Team NZ shirts, red socks proudly on show - secured their seats. Early risers scored the front-row armchairs from about 6.30am, while latecomers were consigned to the edges and corners.

Young children settled down on the floor near the front, but were soon joined by adults when it became clear the only other option was at the back.

Sitting crossed-legged on the floor, many waved their New Zealand flags, others squashed into armchairs two at a time, taking edge-of-the-seat nerves to another level.

Nerves, anticipation and excitement began to escalate, with some eschewing the tea and coffee for something a bit stronger to calm their frayed nerves, despite the early hour.

Then it began, with a loud cheer as Dean Barker and his crew crossed the start line. But the good spirits soon turned to nervous tension as the Kiwi boat struggled to keep pace with the Americans.

Cheers of support and yells of encouragement continued throughout, with one fan waving a `Dean for PM' placard.

A sporting round of applause went around the packed clubhouse as Oracle raced over the finish line, in acknowledgement of a good performance - but that was nothing to the hearty cheer that followed as Team NZ came in behind.

Tension over, it wasn't long before the positivity kicked in again and the excitement began to grow once more ahead of the second race.

But as the decision to cancel was heard coming from the big screen a loud sigh of disappointment could be heard from the whole clubhouse.

And with that it was over for another day, with most people dashing off to work or school, whichever one they had ditched to catch the race.

Emotions ranged from ``frustrated'' to ``shattered'', and even ``positive''.

Grey Hutchinson said he had believed today would be the winning race, saying: ``I thought conditions this morning were going to be perfect.

"You've got to think at 8-2 we will do it, we've only got to win one race.''

The squadron - which was decked out in streamers and flags, as well as two giant red socks - will be the host club if Team NZ wins the Cup.

Vice Commodore Andy Anderson, said this morning's result had turned the race into "a real yachting regatta''.

"We've got two very well matched teams, we've seen that, but we're coming out fighting,'' he said. ``Oracle have got nothing to lose and we've got everything to gain.''

- APNZ

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