Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Races get hearts pumping

Excitement and disappointment easy to spot on heart monitors.

Race one was a heartbreaker - and race two was a heartpumper.

The trauma of race one, with its cruel, glory-stealing time limit, was behind a relaxed Chris Craig when the Herald on Sunday asked him to wear a heart monitor during race two.

It didn't take long for the excitement to get the 43-year-old Aucklander's heart pumping again.

By the time Team New Zealand crossed the startline in front, his heart rate had leaped to 121 beats a minute.

With a usual resting rate half that, Craig, who had joined thousands of fans watching the races at the Cloud on Auckland's waterfront, couldn't quite believe it.

"That can't be right," he said, before turning back to the action unfolding 10,000km across the Pacific.

Oracle's Aussie skipper Jimmy Spithill was trying to hook Team New Zealand moments into the race, but was ably shut out by Dean Barker.

By gate one, the race was neck-and-neck, the Kiwi team rounding the mark a mere three seconds in front.

Craig's heart rate: 92 - within the normal range of 60 to 100 beats a minute for a healthy adult, and well down from the start.

Such heady heights would not be reached again.

A few minutes later, Oracle made gains, sailing 28 knots to New Zealand's 20. The boats crossed paths with Oracle in front and Team New Zealand were forced to slow after being penalised for crossing too close to Oracle.

Craig sighed but his heart rate remained steady at 96 beats a minute as the Kiwi team slipped to 300m behind. A slight gain by the team a few minutes later made no difference.

As Oracle steamed towards mark four with a 600m lead, others began to leave the Cloud. Heart rate: a flagging 87. A slight rally saw it reach 89 as Oracle crossed the finish line.

His heart rate might have been down, but Craig was keeping his head up.

"That last race was just frustrating ... but there's always tomorrow."

Yesterday was tough on every Team New Zealand fan.

The Green family, who travelled to Auckland from Whitianga to watch the races at Shed 10, started confident the Kiwis could do it.

"We were supposed to go home but we're already ringing our hotel to book in tonight so we can come down here tomorrow," said mum, Mary.

Her husband, Dave, said he was absolutely gutted by the day's events.

"We should have really been able to pull that one off," he said.

Even 11-year-old son Colville said it was a disappointing race.

"We should have knocked them out of the water," he said.

Emma Berry, 22, a representative yachtie, said the racing had been intense. "It's just so close, especially during the starts."

She said she would be back at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron again soon after dawn this morning with her fingers crossed and her red socks on.

Additional reporting: Patrice Dougan of APNZ

- Herald on Sunday

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