Jimmy Spithill humiliates Team New Zealand on first outing

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Oracle beat the French by 2m 11s, Team New Zealand bettered the French by 2m 33s. It mightn’t be fair to gauge times in races that were staged half an hour apart but it’s fair to say the Yanks and Kiwis took a similar assessment from the two outings.

Oracle and Team New Zealand then squared off with the Cup holders squeaking home by 6s.

Put that loss down to poor management rather than poor equipment.

The boat looked the equal if not the better of Oracle’s sleek machine for long periods and Team New Zealand were superior through their foiling turns, even the Americans admitting they had been sloppy in this key department.

That’s where the annoying part comes in with this result. The Kiwis missed a chance to put a bit of a muzzle on the “Pitbull”.

Jimmy Spithill and his brains trust outsmarted rookie Peter Burling and the new-look Kiwi afterguard, overturning a big lead by getting some separation and then squeezing past at the top mark with some classic match-racing work.

Burling is a new to this game and he had that exposed by a master who, not surprisingly, didn’t take long to point that out and won’t be slow to remind they young Kiwi again.

But Burling will get better. He is a perfectionist, the keenest of students and a quick learner. He has already acknowledged his mistake. He, like his crew, needs racing.

The test will be how he reacts next time. And the time after, and the time after that because the challenges will come thick and fast in this relentless schedule.

Old mate Dean Barker is up next and he’s a guy who has more than a point to prove against his old team. A new grudge match.

Then comes the clumsy knight Ben Ainslie. He hasn’t got any better with some of his decision-making but he does appear to have found some speed and that’s a concern as much as his loose touch at the wheel.

It’s only the first day but the intrigue levels have already gone up. This was an opening day like no other. Crashes, teams winning one race convincingly, losing the next controversially. What happens next? Who knows?

Bermuda delivered and the viewing will become increasingly compelling.

Are you willing to invest your hopes and emotions all over again?


– Duncan Johnstone, Stuff

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