Team New Zealand have rocketed out of the blocks in their America's Cup challenge against archrivals Oracle Team USA, taking an early 1-0 advantage in their first-to-seven series off Bermuda.

The challengers quickly erased the defenders' one-win advantage on the scoreboard - a result of Oracle's win in the challenger qualifying series earlier this month - and built their own lead with victory in the day's second race.

It was an almost totally dominant display from Emirates Team NZ helmsman Peter Burling, who had the better of counterpart Jimmy Spithill throughout the opening exchanges, winning both starts and overcoming slight lapses late in both races.

Both ACC boats were even off the start-line in Race Two, but Team NZ built superior speed to the first mark and quickly extended to more than a minute in front at the third gate.


Oracle made huge gains up the fifth leg and were within a couple of metres rounding the top mark, but immediately fell off their foils on a gybe and lost several hundred metres in the space of a few seconds.

That error cost the American syndicate any chance of overhauling their rivals.

"Fantastic rally from the boys, particularly the guys forward today - just a massive effort on the hydraulic front," reflected Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby.

"It's so shifty and so puffy, as we saw out there ... you never stopped trimming something for the whole day, so those guys got an absolute whipping today.

"We made a few mistakes around the track obviously, but so did the other guys, so one of those days where it was pretty hard to string every single puff and every single shift together."

Emirates Team NZ well clear around a mark during their America's Cup challenge against Oracle Team USA. Photo/America's Cup
Emirates Team NZ well clear around a mark during their America's Cup challenge against Oracle Team USA. Photo/America's Cup

Asked whether his team had taken a psychological edge over Oracle, Ashby was cautious.

""We've seen this movie before," he told NZME correspondent Dana Johannsen, an obvious reference to the last unsuccessful challenge in San Francisco four years ago.

Earlier, Team New Zealand have wasted no time erasing their one-race deficit.

Right from the start, Burling had counterpart Jimmy Spithill on the back foot, with the Oracle boat crossing the start-line early and incurring a two-boat-length penalty that resulted in a 13-second edge to the challengers at the first mark.

In 8-12 knots of wind, conditions that have favoured TNZ through their campaign so far that margin extended to 32 seconds downwind and to 46 seconds on the next upwind beat.

Under little pressure and showing the benefits of a tough challenger final against Artemis Racing, Burling sailed smoothly and controlled his advantage through to the final mark.

Having built a lead of more than a minute at the fifth mark, the Kiwis' only slip occurred as they rounded that final gate towards the finish - they fell off their foils, but had enough time to regain composure for a 30-second win.

"That's a bit frustrating, to be honest," said Burling afterwards. "We've practiced that so many times. We'll be better in the next race.

"I think if you look across the whole race track, we had so many things we can work on and improve on. It was pretty pleasing, as a group, to win by that much with so many errors around the race track."

Spithill has been in this position before, having masterminded the historic 2013 comeback from 8-1 down in San Francisco.

"They seemed to have some good speed around the course," assessed Spithill. "There were still some opportunities there and I thought [tactician Tom Slingsby] did a good job of keeping us close.

"We felt we kind of played the cards we were dealt - it was a tough day, but we're only one back."

Spithill blamed a software issue for his early start in race one and thought Burling would be early on the second, before the Kiwis accelerated away.

Today's results
Emirates Team NZ beat Oracle Team USA by 30 secs (0-0)
Emirates Team NZ beat Oracle Team USA by one min 28 secs (NZ 1-0)