New Zealand gets America’s Cup revenge over Team USA

Redemption was sweet and emphatic as Emirates Team New Zealand trounced holder Oracle Team USA to regain the America’s Cup on Bermuda’s Great Sound.

The Kiwis took a 6-1 lead into Monday’s fifth day of racing in the 2017 event and landed the sucker punch with a win in race nine to clinch the oldest trophy in sport for the first time since the successful defense of 2000.

Four years ago and poised on match point at 8-1, the Kiwis’ seemingly impregnable lead shrank day by day until the Larry Ellison-bankrolled Americans completed one of sport’s greatest comebacks.

This time, a revamped New Zealand outfit — with wholesale changes to personnel and a radical design program — was too strong for Oracle and its pugnacious Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill, who had been eying a “three-peat” in sailing’s most prestigious competition after wins in 2010 and 2013.

“We’re just on top of the world,” New Zealand’s Peter Burling, at 26 the youngest helmsman to lift the America’s Cup, told BT Sport just moments after the triumph had been secured.

“It’s going to be a good night.”

In the fallout from San Francisco, the New Zealanders parted company with long-time skipper Dean Barker, who joined Softbank Team Japan, and brought in up-and-coming helmsman Burling, who won Olympic 49er gold in Rio in 2016.

Australian Glenn Ashby, one of the world’s best multihull sailors, was elevated to skipper and a whole raft of athletic young sailors brought in.

After the events of four years ago, it was a moment to savor for Ashby.

“It’s been an amazing journey for us as a team,” he said. “We’ve been able to pull off the almost unimaginable.”

“It was absolutely brutal for the team,” added Ashby, referencing the collapse of 2013. “It was a hard pill to swallow. It is a great redemption, just a relief to right the wrongs of the last campaign.”

More to follow…