After winning the final match of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs, Emirates Team New Zealand is back for a grudge match against Oracle Team USA.
Since the Kiwis’ dramatic 2013 loss in San Francisco against the come-from-behind American team, New Zealand has been determined to win.
Four years ago, Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill turned a 1-8 deficit against Emirates Team New Zealand into 9-8 victory for the Americans, snatching the overall America’s Cup victory and leaving Team New Zealand stunned. The Kiwis have fought hard this year to try for a different outcome, this time with Peter Burling as helmsman.
“There’s an ‘X’ factor with Peter Burling,” John Bertrand, the winning America’s Cup skipper for Australia in 1983, told The New York Times. “What he has achieved in the Olympics and the Cup, he’s a phenomenon. It’s a rare, instinctive, natural talent.”
Oracle Team USA
Returning this year from the 2013’s Emirates Team New Zealand crew is skipper Glenn Ashby—who knows the world of sailing is ready to see how the grudge match plays out.
“If I had a dollar for every time it’s been talked about,” Ashby said at a press conference, “I probably wouldn’t be having to sit here to earn a crust.”
Emirates Team New Zealand’s technical adviser, Max Sirena, told the New York Times that for most of the crew, the 2017 America’s Cup is their first. They want to win for Kiwi national pride as much as to make up for what happened in 2013.
Oracle Team USA, meanwhile, has been watching and studying the challenger throughout the qualifying rounds. As crewmember Joey Newton put it, “We’re not giving this up without a fight.”
The first match of the finals is scheduled for Saturday.
Find all of Yachting‘s coverage of the 35th America’s Cup here!