Emirates Team New Zealand wins 35th America’s Cup
by Chris Jefferies
The Challenger Emirates Team New Zealand completed a 7-1 victory over the Defender Oracle Team USA in Bermuda today (June 26) to take the America’s Cup back to New Zealand.
Heading into the month-long race series, Glenn Ashby, Peter Burling and their team’s pedal-powered raceboat were widely perceived to be the biggest threat to the American team and so it proved, with Emirates Team New Zealand winning the first five races of the decisive, first-to-seven America’s Cup Match.
Oracle Team USA fought back on Saturday (June 24), winning the sixth race, but their improvement could not halt the Kiwis' march to victory, which was confirmed today.
However, it was not smooth sailing all the way, with their ACC raceboat pitch poling on June 6 during a playoff semi-final race against Land Rover BAR, causing significant damage.
Emirates Team New Zealand are only the sixth team from outside the USA to win the America’s Cup and their triumph could see the return of monohull racing, most likely in Auckland, if reports from Bermuda are to be believed.
Earlier this year, five of the six teams competing in the 35th America’s Cup signed up to a framework agreement that would have retained the existing design of foiling catamarans and seen the 36th America’s Cup brought forward from 2021 to 2019.
However, Emirates Team New Zealand was the only team not sign on, and the Kiwis now have the opportunity to reshape the format of the America’s Cup as they see fit.
Today's victory acts as a form of redemption for sailing team director Glenn Ashby, who was part of the New Zealand team that lost the 2013 America's Cup 9-8, having been 8-1 up at one stage.
Helmsman Peter Burling is one of many fresh faces drafted into the Kiwi team following the defeat. Speaking before today's final race, he added: “A lot has been said about what happened four years ago, but I love the pressure.
"If you want to come all the way to Bermuda and win the America’s Cup then you have to deal with immense pressure. As a group we feel the pressure is bringing the best out of us and I think we’ve more than answered those questions.”