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Team NZ hit the front after double win

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/06/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

Two textbook wins for Team New Zealand has propelled them to the lead in the America's Cup qualifying series in Bermuda.

The Kiwi syndicate thumped Team Japan by 51 seconds and were even more dominant against Team France, winning by four minutes to eliminate the French from semi-final contention.

In a crucial result, Cup holders Team USA lost their only race on Saturday (NZT), by 24sec to the Swedish syndicate, leaving them a point behind Team NZ at the top of the standings.

It means their clash on Sunday (NZT) will determine the winners of the qualifying series. That boat will take a bonus point into the regatta's Cup Match, if it qualifies.

On form, Team NZ look a sound chance of going deep into the regatta after winning eight of nine qualifying races.

They have looked dominant in recent days and lifted it another level in ideal winds of 13-15 knots on the Great Sound on Saturday.

Helsman Peter Burling won both starts comfortably and the races then followed the same pattern, with his boat pulling clear on every leg.

Team Japan's hopes were dashed by a poor tack on the third leg while Team France simply lacked the speed to stay with Burling's boat.

New Zealand's ability to stay on their foils throughout the entirety of the race set them apart in both races.

Burling says Team NZ still have more to offer.

"We try and improve and today we feel like we have improved a little bit. That's what we are here to do," he said.

"You just look at the performance numbers we do every day we get quicker and quicker. The tacks get better, the gybes get better and the modes you can sail get better."

Team France lost a seventh race from nine and will finish last regardless of the results on the final day of qualifying, eliminating them from the regatta.

It was a successful session for the Swedes, who narrowly beat Team Japan to consign Kiwi skipper Dean Barker to a second defeat for the day.

Team NZ are guaranteed to be the top-qualifying challengers to for the semi-finals, meaning they will get to choose their opponents for that phase.

Standings: Team NZ 8 wins 1 loss (8 points), Team USA 6-2 (7), British BAR 3-5 (5), Team Sweden 4-5 (4), Team Japan 3-6 (3), Team France 2-7 (2).

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