Team Emirates New Zealand has won the 35th America’s Cup, beating Oracle Team USA 7 races to 1, reclaiming the Auld Mug and now controlling the fate of the next contest.
It was a dominating performance — after a contentious few years following their heartbreaking 2013 loss, the Kiwis were quietly on a mission to bring the Cup back to Auckland. The last team to arrive in Bermuda, and the only team not to sign the "framework agreement" mandating the foiling-cat format, New Zealand seemed to have something to prove on and off the water.
After a five-day break and down 3 races to 0 in the first-to-seven Match, Oracle tweaked every inch of speed out of their boat, reportedly shedding some 90 kilograms of weight and looking noticeably faster, but a bit less in control of their maneuvering.
Saturday saw the best and closest racing of the entire Match. Oracle took the lead in Race 5 for the first time in the regatta as they crossed in front of the Kiwis on starboard, then lost the lead on the next tack — but kept it close. But Oracle made a few unforced errors: They were over early at the start, and were flagged for not keeping clear when New Zealand was dialing down on starboard (we’ll let the experts decide that one, but it seemed like a dodgy call).
Team USA went on to make a few bad jibes and tacks, coming off their foils, putting both hulls in the water, and watching the Kiwis sail to a 4-0 lead. The commentators wondered if the boat had enough ‘oil’, or hydraulic pressure to effectively control their daggerboards, something that might have been affected with the changes to the boat.
Race 6 was perhaps the best of the Match, with Oracle leading, losing the lead late, then gaining on one of the last weather legs, getting a dead spilt at the gate, and taking the race by 11 seconds (Burling, who does not come from a match-racing pedigree, later admitted that he should have covered Team USA more closely).
With just one small victory, everyone seemed to be feeling the Oracle magic. "Is this the start of the comeback?" asked Artemis helmsman-turned-commentator Nathan Outterridge.
No, it wasn’t.
On Sunday, Team New Zealand was simply faster and flawless, and despite trailing at the first mark today, were in total control of the race, and really the entire regatta — even after suffering one of the most severe crashes in the history of the sport, the Kiwis seemed unshakable.
We’re not sure what’s next for the America’s Cup, but we think Team New Zealand won a much-deserved victory, and look forward to seeing how the next event evolves in one of the great sailing nations in the world.
Thanks everyone for following our Cupdates, and be sure to pick up the July issue for a full analysis. And if you have any final thoughts, please let us know.