"One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one" - Three Dog Night, 1969

So it won't be today. So we have the pleasure and the pain of one race to go.

One more race to win. One Cup to win. One nation one step away from winning the right to relax and contemplate the new ownership of the America's Cup.

And then we won't even have to contemplate the loneliness of the number one, as Three Dog Night sang.


The band's name, incidentally, came from an Aboriginal folk tale that saw Australia's indigenous people in ancient times sleeping in a hole they dug in the ground. On a normal night, you curled up with a dog. If it was a bit colder, two dogs, and if it was really cold it was a three dog night.

Tonight, it will be Oracle Team USA reaching for three dogs as the chill of being only the third US defender to lose the coveted trophy. Three could be a pretty lonely number too.

The latest race win came, ironically, on a very Auckland day - hot, with a reasonably high level of humidity and a wind of 15-18 knots blowing.

If there was such a thing as a national heart monitor, it would have measured a dangerously upward spike in New Zealand's pulse rate this morning as ETNZ skipper Dean Barker played a clever cat and mouse game to win the start; they headed round the downwind mark six seconds faster after Oracle pulled off a fine forced right turn - a difficult manoeuvre - to stay in touch.

Then the Kiwis re-discovered their upwind strength, challenged by OTUSA in recent races, seeming to be about 2 knots quicker and winning the tacking duels. They turned 17s ahead, Oracle put in a lightning burst sprinting straight down the course but the Kiwis controlled the bottom mark to sprint home by 15s.

The start was the key, as is often the case when two evenly-matched boats meet on a smaller course like this.

"We are very happy to sneak away with another win. We had a bit of an idea what we wanted to do [at the start]," said Barker after the race. "And it worked out".

It looked wonderfully, frustratingly, like the end would comee today with Barker pulling off a perfect start in Race 12 and heading off downwind with the Cup already beginning to feel steel-cold in his fingers.

The look on his face when the race was called off was priceless. OTUSA realised the racing was done and stepped off the accelerator. Barker thought his moment had come. He turned around to look; where had Oracle gone?

But the wind limits had intervened and the race was called off - and a nation groaned with frustration.


"It's not over," said Jimmy Spithill after Race 11. "It's a long way from over".

It's one race from being over.