3 Jun 2017

America's Cup: Sunday showdown for Team NZ

6:34 pm on 3 June 2017

Sunday morning's duel between Team New Zealand and the defender Oracle TeamUSA could become the first race of the America's Cup Final.

That is providing Team New Zealand survives the upcoming challenger knock-out rounds.

Emirates Team New Zealand training, America's Cup, Bermuda, 23 May 2017.

Emirates Team New Zealand training in Bermuda. Photo: Photosport

The new cup format, with defender racing the challengers early on, and the contentious bonus point system, has created the ultimate showdown, on the second weekend of the regatta.

This is how it works :

  • If Oracle TeamUSA wins on Sunday, they definitely start The Cup Final, one-up.
  • Ditto if Team New Zealand wins - but they also need to win the challenger semi-finals and finals of course.
  • The America's Cup Final is first to seven wins, so a one point head-start is a big help.
  • Either way, as top placed challenger, Team New Zealand can pick its opponent for the semi finals
  • Their choice is BAR, Artemis, or Softbank Team Japan
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Photo: americascup.com

It will be a fascinating encounter. Team New Zealand has looked clinical in both light and breezy conditions, becoming the first team to spend 100 percent of race duration up on its foils - the holy grail of foiling America's Cup.

Oracle TeamUSA showed it's not invincible, breaking a rudder just before the clash with Artemis, which it then lost.

Team New Zealand did not support the bonus point idea, so there will be a lot of quiet pleasure, should it end up being the team that benefits from it.

The other contest on Sunday is who will be the lowest of the challengers in the semis.

Dean Barker's Softbank Team Japan may take that honour, even if it beats BAR. BAR is saved from that only by the 2 bonus points it brought in from the World Series.

Sir Ben Ainslie has looked and sounded resigned in the past days, to a fate less glorious than he had hoped for with a well-funded team bearing his own name.

However his team has looked stronger in the better winds that are forecast for Sunday.

Artemis has looked very quick following it's lay day, having beaten Oracle Team USA not just once, but twice - the only defeats the defender has had in this series.

The first day of the Challenger Semi Finals on Monday morning New Zealand time, is still under a question mark due to very light forecast winds.

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