America’s Cup: Team New Zealand gains revenge over Oracle Team USA

HAMILTON, BERMUDA - JUNE 26:  Emirates Team New Zealand helmed by Peter Burling celebrate after winning the America's Cup Match Presented by Louis Vuitton on June 26, 2017 in Hamilton, Bermuda.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Team New Zealand win the America's Cup
04:10 - Source: CNN

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Emirates Team New Zealand wins 35th America's Cup

Kiwis triumph 7-1 over holder Oracle Team USA

CNN  — 

Redemption was sweet and emphatic as Emirates Team New Zealand trounced holder Oracle Team USA to regain the America’s Cup on Bermuda’s Great Sound.

The Kiwis took a 6-1 lead into Monday’s fifth day of racing in the 2017 event and landed the sucker punch with a win in race nine to clinch the oldest trophy in sport for the first time since the successful defence of 2000.

Four years ago and poised on match point at 8-1, the Kiwis’ seemingly impregnable lead shrank day by day until the Larry Ellison-bankrolled Americans completed one of sport’s greatest comebacks.

This time, a revamped New Zealand outfit – with wholesale changes to personnel and a radical design program – was too strong for Oracle and its pugnacious Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill, who had been eying a “three-peat” in sailing’s most prestigious competition after wins in 2010 and 2013.

READ: How Team NZ found redemption on the waves

“We’re just on top of the world,” New Zealand’s Peter Burling, at 26 the youngest helmsman to lift the America’s Cup, told BT Sport just moments after the triumph had been secured.

“It’s going to be a good night.”

In the fallout from San Francisco, the New Zealanders parted company with long-time skipper Dean Barker, who joined Softbank Team Japan, and brought in up-and-coming helmsman Burling, who won Olympic 49er gold in Rio in 2016.

Australian Glenn Ashby, one of the world’s best multihull sailors, was elevated to skipper and a whole raft of athletic young sailors brought in.

After the events of four years ago, it was a moment to savor for Ashby.

“It’s been an amazing journey for us as a team,” he said. “We’ve been able to pull off the almost unimaginable.”

“It was absolutely brutal for the team,” added Ashby, referencing the collapse of 2013. “It was a hard pill to swallow. It is a great redemption, just a relief to right the wrongs of the last campaign.”

Peter Burling celebrates becoming the youngest helmsman to win the America's Cup.

READ: The Olympic cyclist who pedals on water

For Spithill, it was the end of his bid for a third successive Cup win.

“We’re disappointed, but first of all full credit to Team New Zealand,” said the 37-year-old Spithill.

“They fully deserve it.”

“You’ve really got to give credit to them, what an incredible job they’ve done,” he added. “Unfortunately they were the quickest boat today.”

Behind the scenes, and with a budget a fraction of Oracle’s approximate $100 million, the Kiwis were working on a revolutionary design, replacing the traditional arm-powered grinders with cycling pedestals to generate more power to fuel the hydraulic systems on the new generation of foiling catamarans.

Alongside that they developed highly efficient systems for marshaling the power to control the wingsail and daggerboards, designed a formidable package of foils and rudders to suit the conditions, and brought in Olympic cycling bronze medalist Simon van Velthooven to lead the “cyclor” training program.

The Kiwis were last to arrive in Bermuda, but they quickly dominated the challenger series, beating Swedish syndicate Artemis in the final to earn the right to face the Americans again in the America’s Cup proper.

As well as the agonizing defeat in San Francisco in 2013 Team New Zealand had lost to Alinghi in 2007 and suffered a 5-0 whitewash at the hands of the Swiss team in 2003.

The racing took place on the waters of Bermuda's Great Sound.

Their CEO Grant Dalton, though, will be mindful of San Francisco ’13. Surely lightning can’t strike twice …

In the build-up to the 35th America’s Cup cycle, the other five teams signed up to a framework agreement guaranteeing a blueprint for the future, but the New Zealanders, under chief executive Grant Dalton, refused to comply.

Whether the event will even continue in high-tech foiling catamarans is yet to be seen.

The America’s Cup is back in Kiwi hands.