Focus goes on starting box as pressure builds

Greater speeds and improved performances have meant greater pressure in the America's Cup, none more so than in the starting box.

It's no coincidence that the last two races were won by the boat that got the jump over the start line.

Wire to wire finishes have been split between the two teams.

Team New Zealand's Dean Barker hooked Jimmy Spithill on Thursday and the Oracle skipper returned the favour yesterday.

From there it was one-way traffic. The passing lanes of previous races have dried up, especially with the crews on top of their game out on the course where mistakes lessened and overtaking opportunities disappeared with them.

So the start is again the make and break of this America's Cup.

The 10-second advantage that comes with having the port entry into the starting box is huge, allowing that skipper to dictate terms.

The last wins for each team came off that.

Entering second means added aggression is required; Barker put his hand up to admit he'd "made a meal of it" yesterday and his team had "been on the back foot" as a result.

Wing-trimmer Glenn Ashby felt the blame needed to be cast wider than just the skipper as the Kiwis tried to execute match-point..

"It's difficult to make decisions in a short space of time and probably as a team we didn't do the best job of that," Ashby said.

"But under pressure you have to make a call. We've had some great starts as well.

"It's easy to get yourself in a difficult position and it's also easy to get yourself in a really good position and it happens very, very quickly.

"We were just a little bit on the back foot today in the start."

Team New Zealand were adamant they had the package to seal the deal despite obvious improvements from Oracle.

"We are chipping away with our own boat speed programme. We can't control what they do with their boat programme but we can control what we do with ours," Ashby said.

"We're not afraid to change the boat radically from day to day to hopefully make a gain the following day.

"Hopefully if we can get of the line with a start we have a good chance of winning."

Fairfax Media