America's Cup: Team NZ skipper Peter Burling cracks a smile at last - 'better to be lucky than good'

Finally, a smile from Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling - a smile of success mixed with relief as his crew grabbed a crucial break in this crazy Americas Cup match against Luna Rossa.
A thoroughly deserved 58s win in race seven on Monday was followed by a 3m 55s comeback win in race eight to leave The Match at 5-3 in the defenders favour.

It so easily could have been tied again as it was on each of the first three days.

Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling all smiles after going 5-3 up against Luna Rossa in the America's Cup match.

Burling and his good mate Blair Tuke would be the first to admit that as they escaped from the decisive second race in a frustrating game of falling off the foils that saw Luna Rossa lose more than eight minutes in one leg as mistakes multiplied but eventually fell Team New Zealands way.

* America's Cup: Team NZ strike as the Ides of March haunt Luna Rossa
* America's Cup: Team New Zealand take 5-3 lead over Luna Rossa after day of high drama
* America's Cup result: Team New Zealand win crazy race eight to go up 5-3

Seemingly trapped and their hopes sunk at the bottom of the first downwind leg as they blew a gybe, the Kiwis turned a 4m 27s loss around the second mark into a 4m 6s gain at the next mark as the Italians suffered the same fate through a sloppy tack in the dying breeze on Course E.

Team New Zealand lost both starts but won both races to defy the trend of the series, using Te Rehutais stunning boat speed in the first and riding their luck in the second.

We felt the starts were relatively even, there were small margins in them, Burling said later.

Obviously a pretty tense day for us, we were happy with how we fought back and improved in that first race.

The second one ... we gave them an opportunity, and we really needed a mistake from the Luna Rossa guys. We didnt really think it was going to happen but yeah better to be lucky than good, he finished with a wry smile about half as big as the relieved grin he wore out on the water earlier.

Hold on folks, Burling feels things could be just as tense as this series plays out. He knows the fighting qualities of Jimmy Spithill will ensure that.

We know Luna Rossa will throw everything at us, he said, but vowing to show the sort of character displayed in a seemingly impossible position on Monday.

Team New Zealand scored contrasting wins over Luna Rossa on Monday.

The skipper had a special mention for the big men on the handles as they were forced to work overtime to get Te Rehutai back on its foils and back into that dramatic race.

For us as a team, we just keep fighting on. It was a pretty amazing effort from the whole team, especially the grinding group, even when we were four minutes behind or something and kept charging forward.

We all knew it would take one mistake from Luna Rossa, and as soon as we overtook them we knew it would be just one mistake from us and they'd overtake us again.

Its definitely a tense style of racing when you know every manoeuvre is super critical to keeping your boat on the foils, and you know if you do fall you might not be able to take back off.

Team New Zealand are now two wins away from holding on to the Americas Cup. Luna Rossa need four wins to prize it from the defenders tightening grasp.

Team NZ go from belly up to commanding winners in incredible race eight.

I dont think the pressure ever comes off until youve done the last race, Burling said, knowing that Monday proved how easily things could swing so unexpectedly between these two teams nd their relentless rivalry.

Tuesdays conditions are promising to be light again. Perhaps too light to force another day of non-sailing like Sunday, or perhaps just light enough to race on and ensure another day of unknowns.

We just managed to get one opportunity and get our foot back in the door, Burling said of race eight.

Now, Team New Zealand need to slam the door shut.


Our Partner