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Back-to-back wins for Team NZ

11:47 Sun Sep 8 2013
AAP

Pre-start jostling in race two played a key role in Team New Zealand's back-to-back wins on the opening day of America's Cup racing against Oracle on San Francisco Bay.

Team NZ, who had already racked up a 36-second win in the opening race, came out fractionally ahead at the start in race two, forcing the Americans into catch-up mode.

Kiwi tactician Ray Davies says that slight advantage over Oracle's Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill was hard-won, and could have gone either way.

"We just managed to stay far enough forward that he couldn't quite get to us," he said.

"It was definitely a touch-and-go moment in the race ... That was spot on - it was pretty much the race right there at that moment."

Davies said Team NZ skipper Dean Barker had timed his run to the line well, the Kiwi boat then building on the slight advantage for a 52-second win.

"Dean did a really nice job of judging that. You want to have him tucked in close to us, but obviously not close enough that it's an issue for us."

Disappointed Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill agreed the pre-start manoeuvres in race two had been pivotal.

"We were a little surprised, we thought he was going to get a penalty off the start there," he said.

"But it didn't happen and we weren't able to accelerate as quick as they were.

"It was very difficult to come back from behind, they didn't make any mistakes after that. But the boats are very close and tomorrow's another day."

Team NZ's upwind performance over both races seemed dominant, and overall they comfortably topped the Americans in average speed over both races.

The Kiwis' top speed was also impressive - 43.5 knots in the first race and 46 knots in the second to Oracle's 42.5 and 42.8.

Barker said it was too soon to draw any major conclusions from Team NZ's apparent upwind advantage.

"It's too early to say - we were reasonably competitive upwind, but it's hard to see too much in it downwind.

"I think it all comes down to a little bit of positioning."

Defenders Oracle were rocked this week by heavy penalties handed down by an international jury, which found them guilty of illegally modifying their prototype boats in the America's Cup World Series.

The US syndicate were fined while one Oracle sailor - veteran sail trimmer Dirk de Ridder - and two shore team members were banned outright. Another sailor, Kiwi grinder Matt Mitchell, was suspended for four races.

They were also docked two points, leaving them requiring 11 wins to defend the Cup.

Team NZ need nine wins to hold it for the first time in 10 years.

The next two races are scheduled for Monday morning (NZT).