Team New Zealand took the America's Cup to match point with a strong win over Oracle in today's opening race in San Francisco.
Dean Barker was in command all the way, working off some great calls from his tactician to give his team a 18-second win.
That left New Zealand needing one more win and Oracle still requiring eight.
Winds abated after yesterday's strong breeze cancelled the day's action, and they came right back into the sort of range where Team New Zealand have excelled throughout this pulsating final - around 16 knots.
Barker decisively won the start and held off an aggressive Jimmy Spithill on 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 seeming to make 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 resulting in Spithill drifting 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 see 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.
"We had a nice run from there and it was great to get this win. Every win is monumental right now."
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
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