Brilliant Oracle destroy New Zealand's hopes
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Oracle took the America's Cup to a deciding race with two contrasting victories over Team New Zealand today.
A 27sec win in the opening race and a 54sec win in the second race have the match set up at eight-all and Oracle's dominance looks complete.
It's now winner-takes-all in tomorrow's final race - if the weather allows with "frightening" strong winds predicted.
Oracle have all the momentum in this monumental comeback. They have all the performance, too, and that's the bigger worry for Team New Zealand.
The Kiwis didn't help themselves in the first race, incurring a double penalty in the starting box and Oracle sped off for a wire-to-wire win.
But skipper Dean Barker got the better of Oracle counterpart Jimmy Spithill in the start of the rematch - only his seventh win in the starting box in 18 clashes - and gave his team the advantage they had be waiting for.
They held off Oracle at the bottom mark but simply got burned by the defenders on the upwind beat.
Oracle have displayed far superior foiling ability into the wind and they maximised that on the third leg - embarrassingly turning a seven seconds deficit into a 57sec lead.
Only one team was going to win it from there and it was very disheartening for the Kiwis.
To have a lead and let it slip was gutting for Barker and his crew.
They got defensive on the left side of the course into the wind and Oracle simply sailed right under them.
Team New Zealand are now left sitting on match point for the seventh day in a row.
They just haven't been able to match Oracle's boat development that has taken them to seven consecutive wins after staring down the barrel at 1-8.
Based on what was seen today, it would need a miracle for the Cup to be won by New Zealand tomorrow.
The day didn't start well and it certainly didn't end well.
A double disaster in the starting box gifted Oracle race 17.
Barker, having to stall as he got to the line too early, got hooked by Spithill and then the boats collided as the Pitbull rammed home his advantage.
It meant Team New Zealand had to sit out a two boat lengths penalty.
Oracle sped off to the first mark and were never challenged again, as they led for another wire-to-wire finish.
The 17sec lead Oracle enjoyed at the first mark, extended to 29sec on the downwind run.
But Team New Zealand held tough and fought back on the upwind beat, taking 10sec out of the Americans with some fine tacking and course management.
It was all too little, too late though.
The damage had been done at the start and it was irreparable, considering how even these boats appear to be.
Giving Oracle a head start is just a disaster.
But getting a head start wasn't much help either in the second race, as Oracle looked superior the longer the race went.
- © Fairfax NZ News