Oracle goes 2-1 to take lead in America’s Cup qualifiers

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Two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA won two of three races Sunday to take a two-point lead in the America’s Cup qualifiers on Bermuda’s Great Sound.

This is the first time the defender has sailed against challengers in the preliminaries. If Oracle wins the qualifiers, it will carry a one-point bonus into the 35th America’s Cup match beginning June 17.

Skippered by Australian Jimmy Spithill, Oracle beat Britain’s Land Rover BAR by 39 seconds, lost to Sweden’s Artemis Racing by 39 seconds and beat SoftBank Team Japan by 54 seconds.

Oracle has five points, followed by Emirates Team Zealand and Land Rover BAR with three apiece.

Emirates Team New Zealand, the hard-luck loser to Oracle in the 2013 America’s Cup, beat Japan and Britain.

Groupama Team France stunned Artemis for its first victory.

Team New Zealand routs Oracle Team USA to win America’s Cup

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HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) Helmsman Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand won the America’s Cup on Monday with a resounding romp against software tycoon Larry Ellison’s two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA.

The underfunded but resourceful Kiwis claimed the oldest trophy in international sports with another dominating light-air sprint around the Great Sound aboard their fast, 50-foot foiling catamaran. They won Race 9 to clinch the 35th America’s Cup match at 7-1.

As soon as the red-and-black cat crossed the finish line, the normally reserved crew of six began whooping and jumped up onto the trampoline netting and into a joyful group hug.

“We’re on top of the world,” said Burling, who at 26 becomes the youngest helmsman to win sailing’s greatest prize in a competition that dates to 1851.

Magnums of champagne arrived and Burling and crewman Blair Tuke, who won Olympic gold and silver medals together, sprayed the crew.

There were five Kiwis on the crew plus Australian Glenn Ashby, a multihull wiz who serves as skipper and controls the wingsail.

There were no Americans on Oracle Team USA’s crew, which included five Australians and one from Antigua.

Team New Zealand started with a negative point because Oracle won the qualifiers, forcing the Kiwis to win eight races to return the Auld Mug to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland for the first time since 2003.

The Kiwis atoned for their mind-numbing collapse in 2013, when they blew an 8-1 lead as Oracle won eight straight races in one of the greatest comebacks in sports.

Race 9 was another blowout for Team New Zealand, which represents a small, sailing-mad island nation.

Skipper Jimmy Spithill put Oracle in the lead rounding the first mark, but the fast Kiwi cat overhauled the American-flagged boat and sailed into the lead on the downwind second leg.

The Kiwis’ fast boat was powered by a revolutionary grinding system in which they replaced traditional arm power with leg power. They installed four stationary bikes in each hull, with the “cyclors” powering the hydraulic systems used to trim the wingsail and control the daggerboards that are tipped with hydrofoils.

Among the crew was Simon van Velthooven, who won a bronze medal in track cycling at the London Olympics.

In 2010, Spithill became the youngest skipper to win the America’s Cup, at 30. That was the first of two Cup victories for Ellison, one of the world’s richest men.

2017 America’s Cup: How to Watch

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The 2017 America’s Cup continues on NBC Sports this weekend as Emirates Team New Zealand look to build on their commanding 3-0 lead over Oracle Team USA on the third day of racing from Bermuda.

Four years after a thrilling American comeback kept sailing’s greatest prize in the United States, Emirates Team New Zealand has returned to challenge for the Cup. And just like their 2013 meeting in San Francisco, it will take an impressive rally from Oracle Team USA to retain their title as America’s Cup Defender.

WATCH: 2017 America’s Cup (Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, Monday at 1 p.m. ET)

The first team to win seven races from the Great Sound in Bermuda will lift the trophy, and the Kiwis are on their way to doing just that after four straight wins to begin to the competition (New Zealand started off down a race after the USA’s win in the America’s Cup Qualifiers). Victory in four of the six races this weekend would be enough to send the Cup to New Zealand for the first time since 2003.

The challengers looked dominate in the first weekend of racing, but there is reason for American optimism after a five-day layoff and a chance to utilize the deep pockets of yacht owner Larry Ellison. Not to mention, Oracle Team USA has been before after falling behind 8-1 in the 2013 America’s Cup and reeling off eight straight wins to retain the trophy.

 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Who: Oracle Team USA vs. Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2017 America’s Cup

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: NBCSN and the NBC Sports App

 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Who: Oracle Team USA vs. Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2017 America’s Cup

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: NBCSN and the NBC Sports App

 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Who: Oracle Team USA vs. Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2017 America’s Cup

When: 1 p.m. ET

Where: NBCSN and the NBC Sports App