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We got Team NZ call wrong: Cup officials

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/05/2017 Daniel Gilhooly

Team New Zealand's dramatic win over Sweden came through a penalty ruling which America's Cup officials admit they got wrong.

Three hours after the Kiwi syndicate were handed victory through a protest in Bermuda, America's Cup Race Management chief umpire Richard Slater conceded the ruling was a mistake.

The result will stand but will leave a bitter aftertaste for the Swedes, who accelerated past Team NZ at the sixth and final gate and were in clear air to win.

Officials upheld an immediate New Zealand protest, believing Sweden didn't leave enough room for their opponents' AC50 catamaran to safely turn.

Slater says at the time of the protest, ACRM officials weren't certain that Sweden, on port, had given enough space for New Zealand's boat, coming from starboard. They only had seconds to make a ruling.

"We have had a discussion, we have looked at other evidence, information and data, and I think if we were to go back in time and make that call, we would green that call and not penalise Artemis (Sweden)," Slater said.

The contentious result means New Zealand join defenders Team USA with a 4-1 win-loss record following the first round-robin phase of the challenger qualifying series.

The Swedes are 2-3, alongside Team Japan and Team France, while Britain's BAR are 1-4.

Team USA, who didn't race on Tuesday (NZT), lead the standings thanks to an extra point carried over after finishing second in the world series.

The two other races on day three featured Team France. They beat BAR by 53 seconds before crashing to a 2min 34sec loss to Team Japan.

Team NZ's race was the most dramatic.

Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling thought the penalty ruling was the correct one, in comments made before Slater's admission.

"These boats, when you're coming in at 40 knots, you need a little bit more room than that," he said.

"We were just turning the boat as hard as we could and I think we were pretty lucky not to end up on our side."

Sweden skipper Nathan Outteridge, with no option to appeal the decision, was composed in his criticism of the ruling.

"As we were approaching, it was pretty obvious from our position that we were going to make the cross, so we still gave them plenty of room to make the jibe and went around the outside.

"We were a bit shocked when the blue light came on."

It was the second penalty of the race against the Swedes, who dominated the pre-start but crossed the start line fractionally too soon, incurring a two-length penalty.

The boats engaged in some tight tacking duels and numerous high speed crosses throughout the seven-leg race.

Team NZ and Sweden will square off again when the second round-robin phase begins on Wednesday (NZT).

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