America's Cup reaches crossroads as Kiwis near win

Emirates Team New Zealand right leads Oracle Team USA left during the fourth race of America’s Cup competition Sunday in Hamilton Bermuda

The Australian skipper of Team USA still believes he and his team can win the America's Cup despite being a long way behind Team New Zealand after race six in Bermuda.

It sure looks like Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling was waving goodbye to Oracle and rival skipper Jimmy Spithill this morning.

"Hat's off to those guys today, they sailed clean and smart", Spithill said after the race, adding that the US team bankrolled by Oracle founder Larry Ellison would fight to the end and had staged a comeback from a similar position before.

Team NZ aren't panicking despite losing for the first time to Team USA in the America's Cup Match, reducing their advantage to 4-1. He said those mistakes were due to a software glitch on the space-age boat.

While regatta rules limit the changes Team USA can make, they could tweak their hydrofoils, the appendages that allow the catamarans' twin hulls to rise above the water's surface to virtually fly at breathtaking speeds.

Race 8 was to follow.

But before jinxing Team New Zealand, it was still too early to even presume a win would necessarily mean the next America's Cup would be hosted here.

Oracle's boat clearly was faster than the opening weekend wipeout, when the Kiwis won four straight races by margins from 30 to 88 seconds.

Now we get into the meaty stuff.

In both instances, the sailors lost their footing while crossing to the opposite side of the boat, a maneuver that can be tricky in many yachts but is particularly challenging on the high-speed multihulls being raced here.

After defending in 2000, Coutts jumped ship to Alinghi of Switzerland and led a five-race sweep of Team New Zealand.

Jimmy Spithill made history as Oracle Team USA gave themselves hope by getting up and running in the America's Cup to trail Emirates Team New Zealand 4-1.

"We were really happy with today's racing but we talked about how we had a lot of things we wanted to improve and today's no different".

"We are clear that we want to compete in the next America's Cup", Land Rover's Cameron said, adding that his preference was for it to be governed by the framework agreement, with an established class of boats and a "World Series" racing circuit.

"I think there was a good improvement on boat speed today and I think another step tomorrow will be great".

The competition's thrilling final day of action saw Switzerland's Team Tilt join Land Rover BAR Academy and NZL Sailing Team on the podium in third place overall. "At one stage, we actually said, 'We want you to look at traversing behind the wing.' And that turned out to be probably more unsafe than going in front". That's really important to us.

The Kiwis lead 3-0 in the first-to-seven match. He noted that the New Zealanders had taken a few days off during a five-day break while Oracle hit it hard, on the water and in the boat shed.

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