America's Cup: Team New Zealand start to show their true potential

Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling believes they are starting to show the true potential of their boat as they continue to show their fighting qualities in this remarkable Americas Cup match.
Another day, another shared ledger, meaning the contest is tied at 3-3 after three days.

On Saturday, it again came down to mistakes and making the other team pay.

Team New Zealand's Te Rehutai on the rip against Luna Rossa on Saturday.

That happened to both teams in the starting box, firstly to Team New Zealand who suffered an 18-seconds loss to put them in a precarious position on the scoreboard.

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But Burling managed to pounce on Jimmy Spithill in the second start and ripped away to build an ever-increasing lead that eventually stretched to 1m 41s, the biggest margin of this tight contest.

And therein lies the difference between these two teams.

Luna Rossa, once in front, are clever at defending their lead through the match-racing skills of Spithill and co-helmsman Francesco Bruni, boxing the Kiwis on to the weakest side of the course and keeping them cornered there without making huge gains in metres.

In contrast, Team New Zealand have shown an ability to be able to rapidly extend once they get in front.

Thats a real sign that their boat has the speed that might ultimately decide this contest which is the closest final since Australia II broke a 3-3 deadlock to beat Liberty 4-3 and finally take the Auld Mug off the New York Yacht Club in 1983.

I think we showed what the boat can actually do if we get a bit of a runway, Burling said of the latest gutsy comeback.

Weve been saying all along were really happy with our boat.

Te Rehutai had better upwind and downwind speed averages.

The starts were pretty contrasting. One of them we were off the foils in Luna Rossas bad air and one of them they were off the foils in our bad air, and I think they set up both races for the outcomes, he said.

Chris Cameron
Team New Zealand managed to clear away from Luna Rossa comfortably in race six on Saturday.

But we were really pleased with how we kept in the race in the first one. I thought we did a really good job keeping in contact, but we didnt get any opportunities to get past

We feel like we have improved quite a bit in that lighter air. We feel like every race we come out with a heap of learnings.

The frustration for sailors and race fans alike is the lack of passing lanes on these narrow courses in light airs.

They suggested it might take a significant lift in breeze to achieve that. In the meantime, its all about the impact of mistakes, and the need to eliminate them as the trailing boat is forced to operate in the wind shadow of the massive sail of the leader.

Josh Junior added a fresh voice to Saturdays post-race press conference and gave some insight into the workings of the Team New Zealand systems.

Team NZ win race six to level the America's Cup final at 3-3 after Luna Rossa won earlier on Saturday.

A 2017 Americas Cup winner who is the current world Finn class champion, Olympian Juniors major task is to provide muscle on the grinding handles.

But he is also helping Glenn Ashby with trimming and, crucially, providing input into what is going on with Luna Rossas positioning, especially during starting procedures.

Andy Maloney is providing similar advice on the other side of the boat. With Team New Zealand also having Ashby, flight controller Blair Tuke, and Burling on their comms, they have a five-man system countering Italys double helmsmen who are assisted by their wing trimmer Pietro Sibello as a tactician.

Im helping Pete paint that picture to leeward, explained Junior.

Obviously with these boats there are blind spots. They (Luna Rossa) have two helmsmen and thats how they communicate. We communicate similarly, just with different people.

We have got quite a few good sailors on the boat, its good to use everyones opinion because everyone is very talented in their own right.

Junior felt Team New Zealand were slowly but surely coming into their own as they worked their way into The Match off two months of training without any racing.

We are learning to sail better and improve and sail the boat in different modes. We are playing around learning how to do it, and we are getting better and better ... we are excited.


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