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Team NZ must keep improving: Burling

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/06/2017

Two more wins have Team New Zealand sitting on match point in the America's Cup Match Series, but helmsman Peter Burling says there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Burling out-manoeuvred and out-paced Jimmy Spithill's Team USA in light airs on the Great Sound, and the Kiwis now hold a 6-1 lead in the first-to-seven series.

But the 26-year-old Olympic gold medallist says the challengers won't be changing their approach going into their crucial next two races.

"We talked yesterday about how we had a lot of things we wanted to learn and improve on, and today's no different," he said.

"We don't feel like we sailed anywhere near where we can ... We made plenty of mistakes out there today, and we've got plenty we can improve on."

Burling nailed two sharp starts on Monday (NZT), narrowly edging the Americans on the start line in race seven and going on to seal a tense 12sec win.

In race eight, the Kiwis were even more dominant, completely outfoxing Team USA in pre-race manoeuvres to take a 14sec lead over the line.

They built on that with a flawless performance, racing on their foils all the way for a comfortable 30sec win.

The wins put Team NZ back on the front foot after they suffered their first loss of the series on Sunday, when Team USA managed an 11sec win.

Spithill had no difficulty pinpointing the reasons behind his team's latest losses.

"These guys sailed better - they made fewer mistakes, and they deserved to win two races. We clearly just made too many mistakes today.

"Clearly the plan wasn't to be in this position again, let me tell you, but we're here so now it's up to us to respond and react."

Burling says Team NZ are learning with every race, particularly when it comes to pre-start tactics, where input from coaches such as Ray Davies and Murray Jones has been key.

"We feel like we're on such a steep part of the learning curve, but we've got some great guys in the background that allow us to keep progressing.

"As a younger bunch of guys on board, we could really adapt and we felt like we did a lot better job today than we have through this whole series so far."

Memories from Team NZ's loss four years ago in San Francisco, when they stalled on match point at 8-1 up and Team USA stormed home to retain the Cup, have kept the New Zealanders cautious.

Skipper Glenn Ashby summed it up: "We've been in this situation before. There's still a long way to go.

"We've seen this movie before - anything can happen.

"We are just going to keep focusing on what we can focus on: sailing the boat well, keep pushing hard and just take tomorrow as it comes."

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