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Oracle beats Kiwis to earn America's Cup match bonus point

Oracle beats Kiwis to earn America's Cup match bonus point

It meant Team USA, who topped the standings, beat Team NZ in both of their races, prompting Spithill to land some psychological blows on opponents they may face in the Cup Match beginning in two weeks.

Even if the French crew skippered by Franck Cammas beat Sweden's Artemis Racing on Saturday, an inferior track record in the pre-event series means they can not overcome the other teams who are also seeking to challenge Oracle Team USA.

The British crew bounced back from that loss with a 13-second victory over Japan on Saturday but were defeated in the second race of the day, despite an encouraging performance, by holders Oracle Team USA.

As the defending champions, Team USA will sit out the semi-finals and final of qualifying and await the challenger they produce for the 35th America's Cup.

With 26-year-old Peter Burling calmly steering the 50-foot catamaran, the Kiwis became the first crew to sail around the seven-leg course entirely on hydrofoils, with the hulls never touching the water until just after the finish line.

The result means the USA team supported by Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison will have a point lead against whoever gets to challenge them in head-to-head match, which will be won by the first team to get to seven points.

NZME America's Cup expert and former Team NZ weather guru Mark Orams warned against over-thinking that approach. That came in a 4:06 whitewashing of Groupama Team France, which was eliminated with one race to sail.

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Oracle will now train on its own while the challengers sail their semifinals, which start Sunday, and finals.

In what could be a dress rehearsal in the race for the “Auld Mug”, Oracle responded superbly to the challenge posed by their much-fancied rivals and ruthlessly punished the Kiwis costly mistakes. That saw the Americans top the round-robin table and earn a bonus point for the America's Cup match at the end of the month.

Emirates Team New Zealand recovered superbly to close the deficit completely by gate 3 as the teams headed into the turn together.

Having failed to progress to the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger Playoffs, Franck Cammas' team would have hoped to cause one last shock and beat the Swedish team for a second time. The Kiwis reached match point at 8-1 and was way ahead in what would have been the deciding race, but it was abandoned after the time limit expired on a fluky day on San Francisco Bay. We wanted that point, like the rest of the teams. Oracle then mounted one of the greatest comebacks in sports, winning eight straight races to retain the Auld Mug.

One positive for the Kiwis is they get to select which of the other three challengers they want to race in the semi-finals.

Oracle has a second race Saturday, against Land Rover BAR.

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