Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

America's Cup: 5 reasons to believe

Emirates Team New Zealand crew members wave to fans after defeating Oracle Team USA. Photo / AP
Emirates Team New Zealand crew members wave to fans after defeating Oracle Team USA. Photo / AP

1 Team New Zealand are untouchable upwind

It was said repeatedly in the lead-up to the finals the upwind leg would be vital. Although the San Francisco Bay course has just one beat, it accounts for about 30 per cent of the race and therefore (it was forecast), that would be where the match would be won and lost. The predicted battleground has turned more into a slaughtering ground for Emirates Team New Zealand, who have shown serious pace upwind.

2 They're one slick, well-drilled outfit

The masterminds behind the AC72 concept promised it would be like Formula 1 on water, and just as in motorsport, cornering technique is pivotal to the outcome of races in the high-powered catamarans. Team NZ impressed with their crew work and boat-handling but it is still a surprise as to how much more accurate their execution is than Oracle's, with the Kiwi crew able to gain at least a boat length in every manoeuvre.

3 They've had an uninterrupted sailing programme

Team NZ's competency on the water is down to one key factor - time. Having been the first to launch their boat, and suffered no major setbacks in their sailing programme, the Kiwis have managed to squeeze in more time on the water in the AC72s than any other team, notching up their 100th sail day in their final training run before the start of the Cup match last weekend.


4 Wing trimmer Glenn Ashby

We've heard a lot about the Team NZ brains trust of Dean Barker and Ray Davies, but there is another key factor - Glenn Ashby. As wing trimmer, he is responsible for operating the wingsail that powers the boat - a highly specialised role that requires precision timing and anticipation. The superior acceleration the Kiwi boat has over Oracle is in large part down to him.

5 They have experience on their side

In the exciting new AC72 class, which demands more athletically of the sailors than ever before, the Team New Zealand crew were initially scoffed at for being too old. But the AC72s are also complex pieces of machinery to sail, and the experience of the crew has proved a big advantage from that perspective.

- NZ Herald

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