Team NZ happy with draw on thrilling day

02:20, Sep 16 2013
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Team New Zealand holds a slight advantage during race one.
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Team New Zealand in action during race two.
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Action from race two with San Francisco city in the background.
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Team New Zealand streak away to win race two against Oracle.
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Oracle in action during race two.
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San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was hard to see during America's Cup racing on Monday (NZT) with heavy fog blanketing all but its highest point.
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Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by Dean Barker waves to the crowd after beating Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race five of the America's Cup Finals.
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Emirates Team Zew Zealand races ahead of Oracle Team USA as they pass in front of Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline during race 5 of the America's Cup Finals.
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Emirates Team New Zealand follows Oracle Team USA around the first mark in race five on day three of the America's Cup 34.
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Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand tack upwind in front of Alcatraz Island during race 5 of the America's Cup Finals on September 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California.
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Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by Dean Barker warms up before racing against Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race five of the America's Cup Finals.
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The foredeck crew of Oracle Team USA work on a head sail after losing to Emirates Team New Zealand during Race 5 of the 34th America's Cup yacht sailing race in San Francisco.
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Team New Zealand wave to fans after winning race seven.
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Team New Zealand and Oracle sail past Alcatrez during race seven.
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A view from above the Golden Gate Bridge during race six.
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Oracle cross the finish line well ahead of Team New Zealand in race nine.
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Team New Zealand and Oracle race in front of a giant cruise ship and the Bay Bridge during race nine.
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Action from race 10 of the America's Cup final.
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Team New Zealand lead Oracle during race 10 of the America's Cup.
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Team New Zealand crosses the finish line ahead of Oracle to win Race 11.
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Action from Race 11.
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Team Emirates New Zealand skipper Dean Barker talks with his crew after the scheduled second race of the day was postponed due to high winds.
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Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker celebrates after defeating Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race 11 during the America's Cup Finals.
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Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker celebrates after defeating Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race 11 during the America's Cup Finals.
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Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker celebrates after defeating Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in race 11 during the America's Cup Finals.
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Oracle lead Team New Zealand during Race 12 of the America's Cup.
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Oracle and Team NZ speed past the Golden Gate Bridge during Race 12 of the America's Cup.
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Team NZ chases down Oracle during the early part of Race 13, which was eventually abandoned.
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Fog descends on the race course on San Francisco Bay as Team NZ awaits the start.
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Team New Zealand cross in front of Oracle on the second leg in Race 13.
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Team NZ and Oracle sail side-by-side before the start of Race 13, with the Bay Bridge in the backdrop.
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Team New Zealand and Oracle compete during Race 13, won by Oracle.
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Oracle take the lead in race 14 of the America's Cup.
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Team NZ and Oracle race in front of the Golden Gate Bridge during Race 14 of the America's Cup.
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Team NZ in action in Race 15.
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Team NZ attempt to chase Oracle down in Race 15.
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Action from race 16 of the America's Cup.
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Action from race 16 of the America's Cup.
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Sir Ben Ainslie of Oracle Team USA walks off the stage from the dock-out show before going out to race against Emirates Team New Zealand in race 17.
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Oracle sails ahead of Team New Zealand on their way to winning race 17.
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Oracle celebrate winning race 17.
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An anguished Dean Barker with head in hands after the Team New Zealand lost race 18.
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Oracle acknowledge the crowd after winning race 18.
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Oracle streak away from Team New Zealand to win race 18.
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Oracle owner Larry Ellison celebrates after his team won race 18.
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Race 19 begins.
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Team New Zealand battles Oracle during race 19.
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Team New Zealand battles Oracle during race 19.
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Oracle wins race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining the America's Cup.
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Oracle wins race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining the America's Cup.
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Oracle celebrate after winning Race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining America's Cup.
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Oracle celebrate after winning Race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining America's Cup.
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Team New Zealand battles Oracle during race 19.
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Oracle celebrate after winning Race 19, completing an amazing comeback and retaining America's Cup.
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James Spithill celebrates with the America's Cup.
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James Spithill celebrates with the America's Cup.
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A dejected Dean Barker waves to fans.
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Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill raises the America's Cup.
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Oracle tatician Sir Ben Ainslie drinks champagne from the America's Cup.
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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison holds the America's Cup trophy aloft.

Team New Zealand seemed content to call one of the most pulsating days in America's Cup history a draw today as they inched closer to the trophy.

Having copped a 47-second hiding in the opening race, they held their nerve magnificently to claim a 17-second win in the next race.

That halted Oracle's growing momentum and threw the pressure back on the defenders who must now win eight races to hold on to 'The Auld Mug'.

Team New Zealand are just two wins away from glory. But on today's evidence those wins won't come easy.

Today's crucial victory came via a nail-biting third leg where the lead changed four times.

Having won the start and got to the bottom of the course with a narrow lead, the Kiwis were under all sorts of pressure in a see-sawing beat where the lead seemed to change with almost every crossover in a tacking duel.

At the end of the day, New Zealand's win undoubtedly meant more than Oracle's given the growing mental pressures and the scoreboard.

"It was very important to bounce back from race one," Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said.

"The Oracle guys sailed a great first race and they didn't leave any opportunities for us at all.

"The second one was very close across the first reach ... they had one more touch down [with their foils] which gave us the first mark. We felt in a really strong position at the bottom and again they sailed a good upwind and they were right there at the top.

"I think if you didn't enjoy today's racing out there, you should probably watch another sport."

Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill was disappointed his second aggressive start of the day didn't produce the same result as the first race.

Pushed wide at the first mark by Barker's nerves of steel, that might have been the race then and there, as Oracle gave up several boat legs on the turn.

If that hadn't happened, who knows where this race might have gone - it would certainly have been easier for Spithill to dictate.

"We got off the line well today. Unfortunately we just had a touch down and they were able to secure the overlap and that was a critical part of the race," Spithill said.

Oracle's fine-tuning of their boat since Saturday's lay-day has certainly worked some wonders. They have closed the upwind gap that Team New Zealand had enjoyed, though it should be noted that these have come in heavier winds with today's breeze again pushing the limits after yesterday's second race was abandoned.

Another abandonment today would have been a disasters for the Kiwis. Fortunately they were able to race on and get the job done - just.

Barker wasn't too worried about giving up what had seemed such a commanding advantage on the third leg just a few days ago.

"I don't think we have ever thought of it as a sure thing," he said of the one upwind leg of the course.

"In certain conditions we are seeing one boat perform better and in other conditions it might be the other way.

"It's going to be a case of learning all the way through and keeping on developing."

Tomorrow's lay day has taken on new proportions given the gains Oracle have made. The defenders need to make more and Team New Zealand need to find a way to counter those.

Team New Zealand wing trimmer Glenn Ashby suspects things might only get tighter from here.

"We have been close from the start. As we evolve through the regatta, you learn more and more and those guys certainly sailed a fantastic race today," Ashby said.

"Like us, they are learning how to mode their boat for different conditions and try different things all the time.

"I think it is going to be close right the way through."

The weather forecast isn't good for the resumption of racing on Wednesday with high winds threatening a scheduled double-header. 

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