It may have been four years in the making, but the America's Cup looks destined to go to the team that missed out back in 2013. New Zealand can clinch the oldest trophy in sports when the contest resumes on Monday.
New Zealand are one step away from glory in the America's Cup after winning two races on Sunday and extending their lead to 6-1 in the first-to-seven final against the defending champions, the USA. The win stopped US momentum in its tracks after they won theirfirst win of the series on Saturday.
Peter Burling and his team gave a masterclass in both races on Bermuda's Great Sound, leaving veteran Oracle Team USA captain Jimmy Spithill with little chance.
"Hat's off to those guys today, they sailed clean and smart," Spithill said afterwards, adding that the US team would fight to the end and had staged a comeback from a similar position back in 2013 in San Francisco when the Kiwis suffered a soul-crushing collapse that kept them from winning the oldest trophy in international sports.
On Sunday, Spithill, aiming for a third straight cup victory, threw in a slight swerve as the catamarans headed side-by-side for the startline, allowing Burling to blast across the line one second faster.
In truth, New Zealand were never troubled from the start. Burling made the most of a wind shift on the third leg to stretch their lead to 32 seconds at the third mark. By the fourth mark, that lead was as big as 40 seconds and even though the USA worked hard to get that back down to 12, Oracle weren't close to challenging on the final sprint.
Despite starting the series with a one-point deficit (due to USA victory in round-robin qualifying), New Zealand need just one more win to seal glory. The next - and possibly final - race gets underway at 19.12 CET on Monday.
jh/mds (Reuters, AFP, AP)