Team NZ one win from America's Cup glory
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Team New Zealand's charge to the America's Cup was again stalled by the weather today, just after they had thumped Oracle in the opening race to get to match point.
Dean Barker's crew delivered a magnificent 15-second win to get within a point of the cup in race 11.
And they almost got to start the second race - it was literally postponed when Barker had control of rival Jimmy Spithill right on the start line - only for the wind to get over the 19.9-knot threshold that had been adjusted to accommodate another heavy outgoing tide.
The umpire's call came to stop racing and reset the clock for another 15-minute countdown.
It was huge frustration for Team New Zealand, although they were later seen doing some repair work to Aotearoa as the clock ticked away again.
Eventually regatta director Iain Murray called off the day's racing.
So Oracle live to fight another day, still needing eight wins to keep the cup while New Zealand need just one more win for glory.
That will have to wait till tomorrow as this agonising campaign draws out.
Murray was unapologetic.
"The rules are the rules and it's probably better to call the race off before the start rather than during the race," he said.
What was disappointing was that Barker had judged his speed to the start line perfectly to blitz Spithill and set up what would have been another crucial lead at the first mark.
Barker was on fire in the starting box today.
His work there had set the tone of the opening win, which was a wire-to-wire effort from the Kiwis.
After yesterday's strong breeze cancelled all of the day's action, today they came right back into the sort of range where Team New Zealand have excelled - around 16 knots.
Barker decisively won the start of Race 11 and held off an aggressive Spithill over the dash to the first mark for a 3sec lead.
The Kiwis managed to extend that to 6sec at the bottom mark where the two boats went in different directions for the crucial upwind beat.
Team New Zealand slowly but surely got the better of another furious tacking duel with tactician Ray Davies making the right calls on where to place Aotearoa.
That saw Americans make a couple of extra tacks - and one right in front of the top mark that resulted in Spithill slipping from 30 metres behind to 300m in arrears as the Kiwis sped off downwind.
But the heat wasn't over as Team New Zealand allowed Oracle to dictate terms from behind and with a good shift the Americans closed to within 100m towards the bottom of the run.
It was a matter of who could line up best into the bottom mark and both boats went agonisingly slowly around that turn.
But Oracle were sailing slightly lower and lost more time, drifting around 19sec behind.
Team New Zealand were never going to let that disappear on the last blast to the finish line for a cherished victory.
"The start worked out about as good as it could," Barker said of the opening effort.
"We had a nice run from there and it was great to get this win."
Spithill admitted he had a poor start.
"We were late and that made it hard," he said.
"But the boys dug deep and it was all on right to the finish."
- © Fairfax NZ News