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Man overboard as Kiwis take early lead

NZN 10/06/2017 Angelo Risso

Team New Zealand have claimed the early advantage in their America's Cup challenger final, with a Swedish syndicate self-destruction handing the Kiwis a 2-1 lead on Saturday.

With the two boats roughly level mid-race, Sweden's Australian skipper Nathan Outteridge slipped and went overboard while moving across the boat.

Devoid of their captain, the Swedes gave up the ghost in Bermuda's Great Sound and retired, allowing the Kiwis to freely sail to victory.

Outteridge was later fished out of the water by the chase boat.

"I've dried out a little bit, but apart from that I'm fine," Outteridge said after the race.

"These boats are turning quite quickly and in an effort to get crew up quite quickly out of the tack, we sprint across.

"Just as I was crossing the centre of the boat we straightened the turn, which had me sliding off the off-beam.

"It's not the first time it's happened, to myself or to many people."

Apart from their implosion at 1-1, the Swedes had the better of the racing in all three tussles and out-manoeuvred the Kiwis in each start.

But their penalty for veering outside the course boundary in the first race gave Peter Burling and company too large a lead, winning by 47 seconds.

In the second race, a flawless Swedish performance handed them a 15-second victory, before Outteridge's third-race blunder put Team New Zealand on the ascendancy.

The result takes Team New Zealand once step closer to a Cup Match with Team USA, with a perfect showing on Sunday - in the lighter breezes forecast for Bermuda - enough to send them through.

Helmsman Burling, an Olympic gold medallist, was bullish post-race and said his Kiwi outfit would have won regardless of Outteridge's slip.

But he empathised with his Australian counterpart, having tumbled from the boat himself while Team New Zealand were preparing in Auckland.

"Honestly, you just get unlucky sometimes," Burling said.

"It shows you how hard everyone was pushing the boats - it was going to be a really close, top mark apart from that.

"Really happy to walk away with the two wins."

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