Victory in the series that decided the challenger for the America's Cup can too easily be underrated in this country. Emirates Team New Zealand has won the Louis Vuitton Cup so many times it is almost taken for granted.

Yet the decisive 5-2 margin in the finals yesterday should not obscure the intensity of the contest at each stage and the sustained concentration and effort demanded of helmsman Peter Burling and his crew.

They did every Kiwi proud in the way went about it, heads down, hardly speaking, every one of them knowing what to do and getting the job done. Their youth compared to other crews was apparent in their agility around the boat.

The team looked to be so efficient, and their style so unruffled, it is almost a relief that they made the odd mistake. It shows that sharp as they are, they can get even better. And of course they will have to get better to beat the Cup holder that won both times they met in the round-robin phase and starts the defence a point ahead.


The series starting on Sunday will be so tough that our enjoyment of the whole event will depend on the outcome but, whatever happens, the success of the latest version of the America's Cup should be acknowledged.

Anybody who wondered whether a smaller class could have as much appeal as the big catamarans at San Francisco, can wonder no more. These boats, capable of remaining on their foils, have produced an engaging spectacle.

The race format is long enough to allow lead changes and match-racing tactics to come into play, but short enough to ensure races do not last too long once a boat is well ahead.
This is the moment also to acknowledge the mastermind of this format, Sir Russell Coutts.

His home country might not be feeling kindly towards him if the dice turns out to be loaded too much in favour of the defender next week but it is hard to imagine how the event would have survived without him.

The America's Cup is a fearfully expensive undertaking and it is no wonder so few syndicates take part. Sponsors appear to get very little global exposure for their money.

Oracle Team USA has gone out of its way to help a challenge from Japan and probably worked hard to convince others to come to Bermuda. Team NZ will need to do the same if it brings the Cup back to Auckland.

Team New Zealand have beaten Artemis to claim the challenger role, ready to take on Oracle USA. Tony Veitch and Chris Steele weigh in on the racing.

It is an outsider at Bermuda, the only challenger not to have signed up with Oracle's plans to maintain this format for future defences, which would be held every two years. Team NZ has made it known that if it wins the Cup next week, it will have its own ideas on how the event should develop.

Let's hope those ideas are good one, and that Grant Dalton can be as successful as Coutts if it comes to encouraging and assisting challengers to take part. For Coutts' event has been good business for New Zealand. Witness Oracle's use of our marine industry and a Kiwi shore crew.

New Zealanders and Australians helmed four of the six yachts that started this America's Cup and many of the crew. Oracle's Australian skipper knows us to well. His trash talk already has us pumped for the finals. Go Kiwis.