Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is a NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

America's Cup: Winds could foil Team NZ

The crew on Emirates Team New Zealand wave to cheering spectators after one of the wins, but will they get a chance to race tomorrow? Photo / AP
The crew on Emirates Team New Zealand wave to cheering spectators after one of the wins, but will they get a chance to race tomorrow? Photo / AP

The infamous San Francisco Bay winds could foil Team New Zealand's hopes of wrapping up the America's Cup swiftly as they begin their final push for glory tomorrow.

The Kiwi team need three more wins to get to their hands on the Auld Mug, while Oracle Team USA face the daunting task of needing to win 10 in a boat that is clearly struggling to match Emirates Team New Zealand for pace.

While the ever cautious Team NZ camp warn the regatta is far from over and three wins is a lot of hard work, eager Kiwi fans already have the champagne on ice and party poppers at the ready for Monday - the earliest opportunity in which Team NZ can win the Cup.

But the weather forecast over the next two days in San Francisco is not looking promising for getting through the full racing programme, meaning the regatta could stretch on longer than Team NZ fans have been banking on.

Tomorrow is looking especially grim. The forecast is for winds of 18-22 knots, increasing to 25 in the afternoon. The wind limit for the America's Cup match is 23 knots, but with the races scheduled to coincide with a strong ebb tide, the limit will likely be in the 20-21 knot range.

The wind typically picks up later in the afternoon in San Francisco Bay, meaning organisers might have the chance to push through the first of the two races, scheduled to start at 1.10pm local time, but getting two will be a struggle.

Should any races be postponed due to the weather, the earliest opportunity to sail them will be Tuesday's lay day.

If Team NZ don't close out the Cup match in the next two days, there will be at least one race scheduled for the reserve day to catch up on the race missed when OTUSA opted to play their postponement card on day three.

Regatta director Iain Murray said he has given the teams the option of not using the lay day to allow them the opportunity to rest.

"We've gone out to the teams to see if they have the appetite to actually race three consecutive days or whether they would prefer to let that go, I expect to have some feedback on that soon," he said.

However, to make any changes to the schedule, which was signed off by the competitors over a 12 months ago, both teams would have to agree. It is unlikely Team NZ would elect for a rest day, as it would only give the battling Oracle team further time to address their problems.

- NZ Herald

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