Team USA’s Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill has offered to stand down after America’s Cup challengers Team New Zealand progressed to the cusp of a dominant victory.
But two-time champion Spithill isn’t giving up hope of another miracle comeback – despite a 6-1 deficit in the first-to-seven final in Bermuda – after being in a similar position four years ago.
Spithill was outsmarted by Burling in both races today with the New Zealand crew giving a masterclass in foiling their 15-metre catamaran.
Team NZ narrowly won race seven before a dominant display in the eighth meeting for a 30-second victory to take match point.
“Hat’s off to those guys today. They sailed clean and smart,” the 37-year-old Spithill said.
“We clearly just made too many mistakes today.”
Spithill is prepared to relinquish the captaincy if required, admitting to several mistakes during the finals races.
“I’ll do whatever is good for the team. If we think the team has got a better chance with me off the wheel, no problem,” he said.
“These guys sailed better. They made fewer mistakes and they deserved to win two races.
“We’re in a tough situation now. Clearly, the plan wasn’t to be in this position, let me tell you. But we’re here. So now it’s up to us to respond and react.
“We’ll just come back out tomorrow, really take all the lessons from today and we’ll focus on one race at a time.”
Spithill’s famous fightback in San Francisco in 2013 ranks as one of the biggest ever sporting reversals, overturning an 8-1 New Zealand lead to win the “Auld Mug” by 9-8.
The tough-talking Australian and his crew will need to find something special to repeat that feat, after making significant changes in the last week to their space-age catamaran to try to match the New Zealand boat’s superior speed.
The Kiwis have revolutionised sailing in the 35th America’s Cup, using “cyclors” who pedal to provide the power needed to control the boat’s foils and towering “wing” sail.
Burling, a 26-year-old Olympic gold medallist in 2016, was cool and composed as he “luffed” and trapped the more experienced match-racing specialist Spithill in the “pre-start” of the day’s second race, forcing the US boat to a standstill.
Such head-to-head duels can often determine the outcome of America’s Cup clashes, with Team New Zealand establishing an early lead which they never relinquished.
“They didn’t have many chances to get back in the race,” Burling said from on board his catamaran at the finish.
Published at Mon, 26 Jun 2017 00:18:42 +0000