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Russell Coutts finds edge in AC World Series

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 25/08/2012
Russell Coutts
Reuters
REASON TO SMILE: Russell Coutts is New Zealand's highest earning sportsperson by a significant margin.

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Kiwi nemesis Russell Coutts got one over Team NZ when the America's Cup World Series fleet races started in San Francisco yesterday.

Coutts used his local knowledge to skipper his Oracle boat to victory in the first race.

Coutts' understudy on the other Oracle boat, Jimmy Spithill, won the second race to top the table, having finished second to his boss in the opening race.

TNZ finished the first day ninth out of the 11-boat fleet, with disappointing eighth and ninth finishes.

Coutts, who is spearheading Oracle's defence of the America's Cup next year when the crews will switch from the current 45-foot catamarans to the giant 72-footers, made no secret of the reason for yesterday's strong showing by his crews in the tricky conditions thrown up in the 16-knot winds on the famous bay.

“I think time on the water helps, particularly us. We tried to put as much time in as we could over the past few weeks, it all helps,” Coutts said.

TNZ's Dean Barker made no excuses: “Today we were far from our best. We know only too well that if we don't get a good start, and if we are not in good shape at the first mark, it's difficult to make opportunities on a one-way course.

“We got to the first mark back in the pack today and we fought to pick up a place here and there but there was no way through.”

TNZ face a busy day today, contesting two more fleet races and a match-racing quarterfinal against British Olympics hero Ben Ainslie who is making his debut in this class at this regatta.

Ainslie finished yesterday's fleet races in 10th and fifth to lie one place above the Kiwis on points.

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