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Wind the focus as America's Cup postponed

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/06/2017

America's Cup officials have been forced to defend race rules following Team New Zealand's dramatic capsize in Bermuda.

Regatta director Iain Murray announced racing was cancelled on Thursday (NZT) because of high winds, gifting an additional day for the Kiwi syndicate to repair their damaged boat.

Wind speeds exceeded the upper limit of 24 knots on the Great Sound, with racing pushed back a day in both semi-finals.

Team NZ are holding a 3-1 lead over Britain's BAR while Team Japan have the same advantage against the Swedish syndicate.

Team NZ tactician Ray Davies told journalists they would have been able to sail if conditions allowed after the shore crew had worked hard to fix the damage suffered in Wednesday's capsize..

"It was a huge scope of work but they pushed through," Davies said.

"I was really astounded how these guys thrived on adversity. The whole team sprang into action and had our boat good to go. Now we have a bit more time up our sleeve, which is a good thing."

Some sailors and commentators believe the Wednesday session should have also been postponed, with all four boats suffering damage of some degree.

The most notable was Team NZ's "pitch-pole" incident in which their AC50 catamaran came down too quickly off its foils in heavy conditions, throwing three sailors into the water and leaving three others stranded precariously in their upturned seats.

Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby described those conditions as "marginal," while veteran Kiwi sailing commentator Peter Lester said the sailors' safety was put at risk.

Murray hit back at criticism, saying he was adhering to wind boundaries agreed to by all six teams in the regatta protocol.

He produced wind readings which showed a speed of 21.7 knots in the moments leading up to Team NZ's capsize, well within the allowable range.

"So for me, it's a black and white decision," Murray told journalists.

"I have campaigned in discussions with all teams, for the last two years to lower the wind limit.

"It is the responsibility of the teams to bring boats and crew to the competition that can handle the wind strengths that they have nominated."

Winds are forecast to sit within the allowable range on Friday.

Murray said there was a chance of completing three races in both semi-finals, with both leading boats potentially able to wrap up their best-of-five series.

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