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Sailing: New Zealand hit foiling high to set up America's Cup showdown

Sailing: New Zealand hit foiling high to set up America's Cup showdown

Billed by Oracle Team USA's Jimmy Spithill as the "decider", the US skipper forced a penalty on New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling at the start and established an early lead.

The display followed on from an earlier effort in their first race, against SoftBank Team Japan, when they managed a “measly” 99.6 per cent flight time.

Radio Sport has live commentary of all Team New Zealand races.

But they could not repeat the feat against Oracle Team USA and with a win against Ben Ainslie's British team the US crew finished top of the qualifier table.

Emirates Team New Zealand lost their final qualifying race today against cupholders Oracle Team USA and, with that defeat, a possible bonus point in the America's Cup final, but they had already secured their status as top challengers and the right to choose their semifinal opponents.

Sailing in a ideal 13-15 knot breeze, strong starts and boat speed were the key factors in the Kiwi team dominating both races.

Emirates Team New Zealand sailed a flawless race, only coming off their foils as they crossed the finish line after extending all the way around the race course.

Dean Barker's Softbank Team Japan may take that honour, even if it beats BAR.

In one of the many radical departures from tradition, this is the first time the defender has sailed against challengers in the preliminaries. “The boys were sailing really well today and at times it does allow me to get my head out of the boat and look around, and try and make some smart decisions, ” he said.

The holders now have to sit on the sidelines until June 17 when they will defend the cup against one of the challengers.

"The shore team got us in a position to win", he said.

Oracle has two races Saturday, the final day of the second round robin, and the Kiwis just one.

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.

“Its fair to say we were definitely cheering for Artemis in that race, and its great that we have that opportunity to go into that race with a bit more pressure [on Oracle] tomorrow — thats what were really excited about. If Oracle beats the Kiwis, it would clinch the bonus point on a tiebreaker based on standings in the America's Cup World Series the last two years.

Spithill again won the start in the final race of the day, against Ainslie, and Oracle led throughout to sign off with a win.

SoftBank Team Japan refused to give up the battle, remaining under 20 seconds behind Artemis Racing throughout the entirety of the race.

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