Kiwis feel pressure as Oracle win again
SAN FRANCISCO: Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand for the fifth America’s Cup race in a row on Monday, again denying the Kiwis the victory they need to take the trophy.
The win evened the score on the water, with both teams winning eight races, but left Oracle behind two points on the scoreboard due to penalties imposed for pre-regatta violations.
If Oracle win the next race, set for overnight, it ratchets up the potential that the team’s owner, billionaire yachtsman Larry Ellison, will launch a legal battle to have the penalty overturned to claim victory in the best-of-17 regatta.
‘‘We are sailors; we are athletes, we are not about politics,’’ Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said when asked whether the outcome would be challenged if his team hits nine wins before New Zealand does.
‘‘Life is not fair sometimes. We are not going to make excuses; we can control our own destiny.’’
The regatta on San Francisco Bay has become the longest in the 162-year history of the America’s Cup. If the USA can fend the Kiwis off three more times, it would result in a comeback arguably unprecedented in sport.
The Kiwis have been one win away from seizing the Cup from Ellison since Sept 18.
‘‘It has been a rough road the last few days, but there is not one person on the team thinking of throwing in the towel,’’ New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said.
‘‘The worst thing we can do is tighten up and not allow ourselves to do what we have done well.’’
The Kiwis dominated the early races and seemed unstoppable until the USA hurriedly modified its catamaran and on-board crew.
‘‘We are racing against a boat much better than when it started,’’ Barker said of the transformation seen in the USA since the regatta launched on Sept 7.
‘‘We have to make sure we sail well to go ahead and win.’’
Barker said the Kiwi team has given no thought to how the USA winning nine races on the water, but losing the Cup, might tarnish the victory or spark a legal battle.
‘‘We are just focused on trying to win another race,’’ Barker said.