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Swedish blunder gives Team NZ lead

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/06/2017

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

With the two boats roughly level mid-race on Saturday, 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 Sound by the chase boat.

Apart from their implosion at 1-1, the Swedes had the better of the racing in all three tussles and out-raced 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 one step closer to a Cup Match with Team USA, with a flawless showing on Sunday enough to send them through.

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

"Even if he didn't fall off, I still felt we were going to take that gate off him," Burling said after the race.

Previously, Sweden beat Japan 5-3 and New Zealand downed Great Britain's BAR 5-2 in their respective challenger semi-finals.

Team New Zealand twice defeated the Swedish syndicate in the qualifying phase.

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