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Team NZ lead America's Cup final

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 17/06/2017

Team New Zealand have made a flying start in the America's Cup final with two wins over Team USA, leaving the Kiwis 1-0 ahead after the first day of racing in Bermuda's Great Sound.

The New Zealand team's double victory erased a one-point advantage the US earned in the round-robin qualifying regatta.

The Kiwi boat showed superior speed in both races in the first direct comparison of the high-tech 50-foot catamarans' performance as match racing got under way in Bermuda's Great Sound.

Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling won both the starts against defending US champion Jimmy Spithill, despite having less match racing experience..

Team NZ took the first race by 30 seconds and the second by one minute, 28 seconds.

After race two, Kiwi skipper Glenn Ashby praised the way his crew had handled the tricky conditions and unpredictable winds.

"It was obviously a fantastic rally by the boys, particularly the guys forward today - just a massive effort on the hydraulic front," he said.

Ashby said the shifty winds had meant huge movement on the dagger boards and wing, and both teams had made mistakes.

"You never stopped trimming something for the whole day," he said.

"It was one of the days when it was pretty hard to screen every single puff and every single shift together - you had to let a couple go to make sure you played the longer game."

Spithill acknowledged his crew had a lot of work to do.

"We were far from our best today .... We need to sharpen up and that's what we'll focus on tonight," he said.

Both teams have modified their boats, and the two light wind duels showed the Kiwis' pace.

In light easterly winds, the New Zealand team's foils, which lift the boat out of the water at speed, appeared more efficient, consolidating the Kiwis' reputation as light wind specialists.

Team USA were over the line in the first start, allowing New Zealand to gain an advantage and extend their lead during the race, despite an uncomfortable moment at the last mark, when the Kiwis came off their foils.

"I'm not happy with how we sailed today, even though we've got two points on the board," Burling said.

The second race saw a tense start, which was also won by New Zealand. The Kiwis led for much of the race, despite Oracle closing to three seconds after a wind shift put them back in touch.

The Americans fell back, however, allowing New Zealand to secure their second win.

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