8 Sep 2013

First races in America's Cup won by Team NZ

5:42 pm on 8 September 2013

Team New Zealand has won the first two races of the America's Cup series on San Francisco Bay.

Team NZ beat the holder, Oracle Team USA, by 36 seconds in the first race and by 52 seconds in the second after a close start.

The 34th America's Cup is being contested by 72-foot catamarans after two months of qualifying matches.

Oracle was skippered by James Spithill of Australia.

Dean Barker was at the helm of Emirates Team New Zealand.

He says the two boats have now settled in and he's predicting a close series.

Dean Barker says they were fortunate to get two good results on Sunday, but the team's performance can still be improved on in the coming days.

"We made plenty of mistakes out there, it's going to happen when you get in close races like this, you will make mistakes and they do cost you time, so yeah we'll definitely be looking to improve our performance every day."

Team New Zealand needs to win nine races to win the trophy again. Oracle needs to win 11 after being penalised two races for cheating in a preparatory competition.

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

The winners of the event will choose the venue and format of the next America's Cup.

New Zealand first won the Cup in 1995 and successfully defended it in 2000 before losing the trophy to Alinghi in 2003.

The America's Cup was first contested in 1851 around the Isle of Wight. The race was won by a US yacht, America.