Pistol Pete fires and hits bulls-eye twice in one day...
Races seven and eight in the 35th America's Cup saw an impressive display from Peter Burling and Team NZ. The cool heads on-board Aotearoa resulted in two dominant performances to wind the pressure up on Oracle Team USA, and they are starting to crack.
The equation now for Oracle Team USA is to win six straight races in a regatta where no team has done this during the play-offs. This is a massive mountain to climb.
The word that sums up Team NZ in this regatta is composure. They have not got too high when successful, and not too low when beaten (or pitch-poling their yacht). They will approach tomorrow the same way, with solid preparation and sticking to their routines. Focus on the sailing and the result will take care of itself.
Oracle will keep fighting but they now have major cracks appearing in their armour. They have improved their boat-speed - but they have not developed anything innovative, new or different.
They have simply copied what Team NZ has developed. Being a follower seldom gets you into a position where you overtake the leader. From the beginning of the design process for Aotearoa, Team NZ has been bold, imaginative and very smart.
Jimmy Spithill's bravado and talk now looks hollow and without deeds to match his words, it is difficult to take him seriously. To be honest, I don't think anyone within Team NZ has ever listens to a word Jimmy Spithill says in the media, it simply does not matter.
Peter Burling absolutely owned Spithill in the starts today. In the first race he got Spithill out of sync with five seconds to go and controlled the start from the right of way leeward position. The result was that Team NZ was a length ahead and going faster when the start gun went.
The second start and we saw a big mistake from Spithill. He tacked instead of gybing and got slow. He opened the door for Burling to get the hook and Burling did not hesitate he slammed the door open and took Spithill out! The result was five boat-length lead to ETNZ at the start and Spithill's confidence was gone.
The pressure really got to Jimmy Spithill in that race and the result was more mistakes. He made an unforced error sailing out of the boundary by a length and a penalty. Then they got their lay-line to the bottom gate wrong (again) and tried to pull off a tight gybe, fell off the foils and parked the boat. Under pressure, they folded in that race. Composure gone, got smashed. In contrast ETNZ sailed smooth, clean and smart - an easy win.
Team NZ and all of New Zealand, should stay humble here. It is not over and arrogance and rubbing an opponent's nose in their mistakes and shortcomings is not who we are as Kiwis.