Team New Zealand have wasted no time erasing their one-race deficit in the America's Cup challenge against Oracle Team USA off Bermuda,

The Kiwis took the first race of the first-to-seven format and are now on even terms, after the cupholders took a one-win advantage into the contest with victory in the challenger qualifying series earlier this month.

Right from the start, Emirates Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling had counterpart Jimmy Spithill on the back foot, with the Oracle boat crossing the start-line early and incurring a two-boat-length penalty that resulted in a 13-second edge to the challengers at the first mark.

In 8-12 knots of wind, conditions that have favoured TNZ through their campaign so far that margin extended to 32 seconds downwind and to 46 seconds on the next upwind beat.

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Under little pressure and showing the benfits of a tough challenger final against Artemis Racing, Burling sailed a smooth race and simply controlled his advantage through to the final mark.

Having built a lead of more than a minute at the fifth mark, the Kiwis's only slip occurred as they rounded that final gate towards the finish - they fell off their foils, but had enough time to regain composure for a 30-second win.

"That's a bit frustrating, to be honest," said Burling afterwards. "We've practiced that so many times. We'll be better in the next race.

"I think if you look across the whole race track, we had so many things we can work on and improve on. It was pretty pleasing, as a group, to win bu that muich with so many errors around the race track."

Burling was especially happy with his performance in the start box, where he has appeared vulnerable through the early stages of this regatta and was expected to bow to the ultra-aggressive Spithill.

In this case, the Aussie's style got the better of him.

"I think we've talked a lot about the start and it was pleasing to stick to a plan," said Burling. "The Oracle boys led back incredibly early and they were either going to be over or we would have the speed to leeward.

"We still had a few errors on our boat that we're not happy with and we'll have to tidy up next time, but we're really pleased to be back even pegging."