Tough start for New Zealand in Youth America's Cup finals

NZL Sailing Team and Land Rover BAR Academy race during day two of the Youth America's Cup.
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NZL Sailing Team and Land Rover BAR Academy race during day two of the Youth America's Cup.

New Zealand will need to show dramatic improvement if they are to defend their Youth America's Cup crown following a difficult first day of finals in Bermuda.

The NZL Sailing Team went into the event as one of the favourites but were left playing catch-up after the opening race when they got caught in traffic and finished seventh of the eight boats.

Things didn't get much better as they copped a penalty for being over the line at the start of race two, while they also picked up another penalty in the third race for interference on the boundary. 

The Kiwis recovered to work their way through the field in the final race to finish second, leaving them fifth overall on 18 points.

READ MORE: NZ gunning for America's Cup double

"It was a tough day out there," skipper Logan Dunning Beck said. "It was really difficult to keep the boat going.

"The starts were brutal, with eight boats on the startline. We were getting tangled in the pack, who had their claws out, and we just couldn't climb our way through.

"We battled like that for two races and then finally cleaned up our act in the last race and managed to get some clearance off the rest of the fleet to come back from a pretty bad start to finish second.

"It looks like there will be wind again tomorrow so we will be racing for sure and we will be on the comeback. We will keep pushing tomorrow and hopefully Lady Luck will swing our way."

Land Rover BAR Academy led the way on 28 points after collecting one win and a pair of seconds. They hold a seven-point lead over Switzerland's Team Tilt and France in third.

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Light and shifty winds of 7-10 knots made life tough for chasing boats as the leading crews tended to clear out from the rest of the fleet. 

Slightly more wind is forecast for Thursday (NZ time), which should please the NZL Sailing Team, skippered by Logan Dunning Beck.

They went into the final with high hopes after topping their group in qualifying last week.

The Youth America's Cup is for sailors aged 18-24 and was established to create a pathway to the America's Cup. 

New Zealand won the inaugural event in San Francisco in 2013 and four members of that team - Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Andy Maloney and Guy Endean – are part of Team New Zealand, who hold a 3-0 lead over Oracle in the battle for the Auld Mug.

Standings after the first three races in the finals of the Youth America's Cup

Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) – 28 points

Team Tilt (SUI) – 21

Team France Jeune – 21

Artemis Youth Racing (SWE) – 20

NZL Sailing Team – 18

Team BDA (BER) – 18

Spanish Impulse – 15

SVB Team Germany - 14

 - Stuff

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