America's Cup: The Auld Mug stays put as Team New Zealand triumph in spectacular style

The Auld Mug is Aotearoas Mug and the Americas Cup remains New Zealands Cup because Te Rehutai ultimately had a gear that Luna Rossa simply could not match.
On a sparkling Wednesday afternoon on the Waitemata Harbour, Peter Burling and his men of Team New Zealand put an exclamation point on the 36th Americas Cup when they gave their best impression of smoke on the water to crush the Italians by 46 seconds in the 10th and final race of this captivating series.

That gave Team NZ a memorable 7-3 victory to secure their fourth Americas Cup triumph, and their second defence of the Auld Mug. It also made Peter Burling the most successful skipper in the events history as he tucked away his 15th race win to leave Russell Coutts and Jimmy Spithill in his wake.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff
Peter Burling, third from left, leads the celebrations for Team NZ as they complete their latest America's Cup triumph.

Importantly, the Kiwi syndicate retains control of the event, and will in all likelihood elect to keep these spectacular foiling AC75 monohulls as the preferred mode of transport. Just where and when it all takes place is to be determined, with the money folk and the politicians sure to play their part in those negotiations.

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Team NZ sparks huge applause with commanding America's Cup win.

And what a finish it was from Burling and his afterguard of Glenn Ashby (trimmer) and Blair Tuke (flight control), with support from Andy Maloney and Josh Junior on offside control. At 2-3 in arrears, the Kiwis had been dragging the anchor just a little in their defence of sailings most coveted trophy, and indeed international sports oldest symbol of supremacy.

For one last time, Todd Niall and Duncan Johnstone analyse New Zealand's cup winning final race and look ahead to the future of the America's Cup.

But from there they turned it round splendidly to mow the Italians down with five straight victories, the last of them coming on St Patricks Day in the most emphatic of fashions to turn the Auckland Viaduct, and many another port throughout this land, into a scene of joyous celebration.

Ryan Anderson/Stuff
The home crowd erupts as Team NZ cross the finish line to clinch the Auld Mug.

It just means the world to us as a team, said a rapt Burling afterwards. Were actually blown away by being able to achieve what we have as a group and win another Americas Cup. Its just been another amazing experience along the way.

I dont think you could think of a much more special environment than this, with over a couple of thousand boats out every day, the village absolutely packed, people everywhere. To do something like this on home water is something the whole team is incredibly proud of.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff
Team NZ take the lead over Luna Rossa to seal their defenc eof the America's Cup on home waters.

On the back of one of the great races in Americas Cup racing history on Tuesday, Wednesdays decisive contest was slightly more predictable even a tad mundane in its fashion but no less skilful as Burling and his crack team left their imprint all over this event.

More to the point that gleaming red and black boat, named to reflect the spirit of the ocean, was a class above, a good 2 knots faster both up and downwind as it delivered on all the hours and hours of design, manufacture and refinement from the team behind the team.

In a breeze of around 10 knots on course A, out in the Rangitoto channel, the start was considered crucial, and especially the ability to get to the preferred right side of the course where the best wind shifts awaited.

And Burling nailed it, after a 30-minute delay, trailing Luna Rossa ever so slightly off the line, but immediately tacking to the right side. Then, when the boats came together for the first time, the Kiwis held a 60-metre advantage and were able to tack back and protect their preferred channel.

Thousands of fans at the Americas Cup fan village react to Team NZs win.

That was the one we wanted, the right, said Burling of the all-important start. We were willing to give up that first tack to get there. We just wanted to be at good boat speed on the hip, able to follow them and lead out there.

I think from there we really showed what this boat can do. Were really happy with the package weve got here. When we get to stretch the legs and get on the right side of a few shifts we really proved it. Its a pretty nice boat.

Credit, too must go to sailing icon Spithill and the crew of Luna Rossa. They pushed Team NZ to the brink early on, put in one of the great match races of the events history just a day previous and were incredibly gracious in defeat at the end.

It would have been nice to have won a few more races against the Kiwis, but to be quite honest at times it felt like we were taking a knife to a gunfight, Spithill said when interviewed afterwards. We need to go have a beer with the Kiwis and really pay respect to those guys. They developed a fantastic package and they are deservedly champions.

1 Sport
It's time for the Kiwi sailors to celebrate their big win.

Team NZ led by just 7 seconds at the first gate, and 9 seconds at the second. But they were holding beautifully and had yet to really depress the accelerator. They extended to 27 seconds on the second upwind beat, to 37 at the fourth gate and were out by 49 seconds at the penultimate mark. All over.

From there it was a victory parade to the finish, with the thousands on the water, and the even bigger crowds on dry land, applauding their heroes all the way to the finish.

Meanwhile, in terms of the events future, it would appear the intrigue is only just beginning. Team UK look almost certain to replace Luna Rossa as the challenger of record, after the Italians relationship with the holders soured badly during this cycle. The Royal NZ Yacht Squadron confirmed they had received a challenger of record, but wouldnt reveal who it was.

But just what the next event looks like remains to be determined, with rumours swirling that the Cup could be going back to its roots with a potential one-off challenge between Team New Zealand and Team UK as early as next year. Under the mooted plan, the Kiwis could take the Auld Mug to Britain to defend it in an around-the-Isle-of-Wight race to replicate the first Americas Cup battle in 1851.

The Government was quick to congratulate Team NZ and said it would support the team in their next defence, but that was on the expectation it would be held in New Zealand.


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