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Team NZ through to challengers final

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/06/2017

Team New Zealand have sailed into the America's Cup challengers final in Bermuda after accounting for British BAR 5-2.

The Kiwi syndicate won two of the three races on Friday (NZT) to clinch their semi-final, having held a 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

Their opponents for Sunday's best-of-nine final will be either the Swedish syndicate or Team Japan, skippered by Kiwi Dean Barker. Artemis Racing lead their semi-final 4-3 after winning their three races on Friday. Their contest will resume on Saturday.

The official twitter account of Team NZ thanked them for "a great battle".

Team NZ ensured the semi-final wouldn't stretch into another day when they sailed clear to dominate race seven, winning by 46sec.

Unlike the first two races on Friday, Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling won the start and his crew never gave Ainslie a look-in as they extended their lead over the seven legs.

Encouragingly for Team NZ, their AC50 catamaran was functioning smoothly following repairs needed after their dramatic pitchpole incident.

"Full credit to our shore crew and everyone who pitched in just to get us back out here and get the boat pretty much working 100 per cent," Burling said.

"In that second race we missed a few shifts and were too conservative at the start.

"In the third race we knew what we had to do."

It marks a disappointing end to the British challenge headed by Olympic great Ben Ainslie, which was highly fancied after winning the Cup's world series, contested over the last two years.

They lacked the speed to match a Team NZ syndicate which shook off the capsize in race four two days earlier.

Ainslie says his team improved across the regatta but left their run too late.

"We struggled coming into this with a lack of speed for a number of different reasons," he said.

"The whole team has dug so deep to get us more competitive, to the point where there wasn't a lot of difference between the teams today."

Fans all over the world have taken to social media to congratulate the New Zealand team.

"So proud of you boys! NZ stands behind you. Bring it home!," one woman tweeted.

"Bloody well done to #ETNZ! Laying broken in the water 2 days ago to laying 2 wins on BAR and into the Challenger Finals! Kiwi spirit! [sic]", one man said.

Others went for a more negative approach to cheering on the crew.

" I hope #TeamNZ doesn't choke like San Fran v Oracle![sic]", one man tweeted.

"Great - remember the job hasn't finished yet," said another.

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