Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand squad has earned a rematch against ORACLE TEAM USA for the 35th America’s Cup with a convincing victory over Artemis Racing in the final match of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.
It was a nerve-wracking afternoon for the New Zealand team and its fans. With their team on match point, the first attempt at sailing race seven was abandoned after the wind died with Emirates Team New Zealand holding the lead.
But in the second attempt at racing, Burling won the start over his counterpart on Artemis Racing, Nathan Outteridge, and led into mark one for the first time in the series.
From there, the Kiwis showed blazing speed, extending around the race course for what appeared to be an easy race win, a 5-2 victory in the series, and a date in the America’s Cup against ORACLE TEAM USA.
In 2013, in San Francisco, ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill led his team to one of the greatest comebacks in sport, racing back from a 1-8 deficit to win 9-8 over Emirates Team New Zealand.
But Peter Burling wasn’t on that team. In fact, the only holdover on the Kiwi starting crew is wing trimmer and skipper Glenn Ashby. The 2017 Emirates Team New Zealand doesn’t appear to be scarred from that experience.
“I think the lessons we learned out of San Francisco has made us stronger going forwards,” Ashby said at the post-race press conference. “The team has been re-built from the ground up and what has been created is a stronger unit than we’ve ever seen before. The motivation going forwards is certainly there.”
“We feel like we’re in great shape to take on (ORACLE TEAM USA) now,” Burling said from on board just after crossing the finishing line. “Artemis Racing has been an amazing opponent. They’ve pushed us incredibly hard… they’ve put us in good shape for the Cup.”
After racing, the inaugural Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs Trophy was presented to Emirates Team New Zealand by Grant Gibbons, Bermuda’s Minister of Economic Development at a prize-giving ceremony in the America’s Cup Village.
The America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, starts on June 17.