SAN FRANCISCO — Even with the most successful sailor in Olympic history on board, defending America’s Cup champion Oracle Team USA simply can’t catch Emirates Team New Zealand.
The plucky Kiwis beat Oracle Team USA twice more Thursday, moving closer to taking the America’s Cup Down Under for the second time in 18 years.
The Kiwis turned a close Race 6 into a 47-second victory. They then put a whitewashing on Larry Ellison’s syndicate in the seventh race, leading the whole way for a victory of 1 minute, 6 seconds.
Team New Zealand leads 6 to minus-1 and needs three more victories to claim the oldest trophy in international sports for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
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The clincher could come Sunday afternoon on San Francisco Bay. Friday is a lay day, with Races 8 and 9 on Saturday. Two more races are scheduled for Sunday.
Oracle Team USA needs to win 10 races to keep the Auld Mug at the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
The American syndicate — which has only one American on its 11-man crew — couldn’t catch Kiwi skipper Dean Barker even after replacing tactician John Kostecki with British star Ben Ainslie, the most successful sailor in Olympic history.
“We cannot give up, and I can guarantee we won’t do that,” Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said. “We’ll keep fighting the whole way till the end. There’s still a lot of racing; I’m still convinced we can win races.”