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Oracle Team USA beat New Zealand, win America's Cup qualifier

Oracle Team USA beat New Zealand, win America's Cup qualifier

Emirates Team New Zealand seized the lead in the America's Cup qualifying round-robin with two impressive victories on Friday as underdogs Groupama Team France dropped out of contention.

With 26-year-old Peter Burling calmly steering the 50-foot catamaran, the Kiwis became the first crew to sail around the seven-leg course entirely on hydrofoils, with the hulls never touching the water until just after the finish line.

The result means the USA team supported by Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison will have a point lead against whoever gets to challenge them in head-to-head match, which will be won by the first team to get to seven points.

Artemis also led wire-to-wire in their 18 second victory over Team Japan.

Spithill was also damning of the Kiwis' performance under pressure in their two races with the New Zealand boat this week, labelling their mistakes is "very fundamental".

The U.S. team have all to play for as they would win the bonus point if they beat New Zealand and then defeat Britain's Land Rover BAR in the last race of the qualifiers on Saturday.

And while the “Auld Mug” itself is not at stake in race 12 of the second round robin in the Louis Vuitton Americas Cup Qualifiers, there is still plenty riding on the outcome this afternoon on the Great Sound.

When asked on what the outcome might be in the New Zealanders semi-final, Spithill was slightly more circumspect: "Time will tell". "That race tomorrow between the Kiwis and us, that's the bonus point".

Oracle TeamUSA showed it's not invincible, breaking a rudder just before the clash with Artemis, which it then lost. The Kiwis had to clear the penalty by slowing to two boat lengths behind Oracle.

Team New Zealand were blighted by penalties in their loss to Oracle. BAR is saved from that only by the 2 bonus points it brought in from the World Series.

The American-backed crew, which includes Australians Spithill and Slingsby, will now train on its own while the challengers sail their semifinals, which start Sunday, and finals.

Burling opted for a split once they reached the second gate nine seconds back, looking for a bit of help from the conditions on the upwind leg, and Team NZ were quickly able to close the gap and edge in front.

And their decision, announced at today's post-race press conference in Bermuda, leaves Dean Barker and Team Japan to face in-form Artemis Racing (Sweden) in the other semi-final, starting Monday [NZT].

Team NZ have beaten BAR twice already this week, including the walkover on Friday (NZT), when the Kiwis nearly lapped their rivals, who withdrew with two legs remaining.

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