Team NZ one win from America's Cup Glory
September 18, 2013, 23:49:33
Team New Zealand's charge to the America's Cup was stalled by another weather intervention today, just after they had thumped Oracle in the opening race to get to match point.
Dean Barker's crew delivered a magnificent 18-seconds win to get within a point of the Cup in the opening race.
They almost got to start the second race - it was literally postponed when Barker had complete control of James Spithill right on the start line - only for the wind to get over the 19.9 knots limit that had been adjusted to accommodate another heavy outgoing tide.
The umpire's call came out to stop racing and reset the clock for another 15-minutes countdown.
It was huge frustration for Team New Zealand, although they were later seen administering some repair work to Aotearoa as the clock ticked away again.
Eventually regatta director Iain Murray made the call to end the day's racing.
So Oracle live to fight another day, still needing eight wins to try to hold on to the Cup while New Zealand need just one more win for glory.
That will have to wait till tomorrow as this agonising campaign draws out even longer.
Murray was unapologetic.
"The rules are the rule and it's probably better to call the race off before the start rather than during the race,' Murray sad, before he was forced to abandon the day altogether.
What was disappointing was that Barker had cleverly judged his speed to the start line perfectly to blitz Spithill and set up what would have been another crucial lead at the first mark.
Barker was on fire in the starting box today.
His work there had set up the tone of the opening win, which was a wire to wire effort from the Kiwis.
After yesterday's strong breeze cancelled the day's action, they kindly abated to get racing under way today.
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 over the dash to the first mark for a 3-seconds lead.
The Kiwis managed to extend that to 6-seconds at the bottom mark where the two boats split off 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. That saw Spithill drift from 30m behind to 300m in arrears as the Kiwis sped off for a crucial win.
But the heat wasn't over as Team New Zealand allowed Oracle to dictate terms from behind and with a good shift they 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 mark.
But Oracle were sailing slightly lower and lost more time, drifting around 19 seconds behind.
Team New Zealand were never going to see that disappear ion the last blast to the finish line for a cherished victory.
"The start worked out about as good as it could," Barker said of the opening effort.
"We had a nice run from there and it was great to get this win."
Spithill admitted he had a poor start.
"We were late and that made it hard. But the boys dug deep and it was all on right to the finish," Spithill said.