Kiwis in command with two more America’s Cup wins
Kiwis in command with two more America’s Cup wins
With two race wins over defenders Oracle Team USA on Sunday, helmsman Burling and his crew completed a sweep of the weekend’s first four races on the sparkling waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound to leave USA skipper Jimmy Spithill searching for answers in his bid for a third straight win in yachting’s most prestigious competition.
“We’ve made it no secret we’re here to try to win the America’s Cup,” said the 26-year-old Burling.
“To do that you’ve got to win eight races. We’re really happy to have won four so far, but we’ve just got to keep pushing.”
The Kiwis came into the regatta on the back foot — with a one-point deficit due to Team USA’s topping the qualifying round-robin.
They got on level terms with their first win on Saturday and now lead 3-0 in the first-to-seven points series — meaning they could take the Cup back to New Zealand for a third time with another sweep of four races next weekend.
In the interim, Spithill said Team USA, who need seven wins to retain the Cup, would put “everything on the table” in a bid to make their boat faster.
“The guys are disappointed. We wanted a race win today,” said Spithill, whose team beat New Zealand twice in qualifying.
“We’ve proved we can win races against these guys. We topped the qualifying series for a reason,” Spithill said. “But clearly these guys have made a step so now we’ve got an opportunity — five days to respond.”
Spithill noted that many in Team USA are veterans of the 2013 campaign in San Francisco, when New Zealand held match point at 8-1 against Oracle only to lose 9-8 — falling victim to one of sport’s greatest comebacks.
“This is the group to respond because we’ve got the confidence that we can do it,” Spithill said. “We’ve been here before,” Spithill said. “It’s not over.”
Burling was not on board in 2013. He was part of the massive Team New Zealand overhaul that followed that crushing disappointment.
But he knows the Kiwis will also have to improve before next weekend to maintain the upper hand.
“I think everybody showed out there our team’s really hungry to keep learning, keep moving forward, keep improving,” Burling said. “Because we know if we stand still these guys will be catching us.”
New Zealand’s only obvious miscue of the day came in the pre-start of the second race, when they slowed to a near stop.
It did not matter as they recovered to power to the first mark virtually even with the USA.
Both teams sailed textbook races, but New Zealand’s superior boat speed, on their light air foils, proved decisive in the victory by a margin of 1min 12sec.
It was almost a carbon copy of the earlier race, when the Kiwis seized upon an early mistake by Team USA to get their nose in front.
Once ahead they relentlessly pressed their advantage, leading by 11 seconds at the second mark on the way to a 49-second win.
“I think today was a really good day for us,” said Burling, who won Olympic 49er gold in Rio last year. “We definitely felt like we improved a lot over yesterday.”
Lewis Hamilton ‘excited’ by unforgiving Monaco street fight
- Hamilton has a 17-point lead over Vettel
- 'It is going to be a close fight'
MONACO: Lewis Hamilton is aiming to reel off his third successive win and to consolidate his grip on this year’s title race at this weekend’s 65th running of the classic Monaco Grand Prix.
The defending four-time world champion, fresh from a lucky victory in Azerbaijan and a convincing triumph in Spain, arrives in the Mediterranean principality with a 17-points lead on nearest rival and fellow-four-time champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
But in an unpredictable yo-yo season punctuated by unexpected dramas, the 33-year-old Englishman knows he faces a challenge to stay on top on the unforgiving barrier-lined streets.
“We have worked very hard as a team to get into this position, but we know this is a major task. It is going to be a close fight and I am excited by the prospect of this race.”
Vettel won last year’s race for Ferrari, ending a four-year run of Mercedes domination at a track where qualifying is of paramount importance due to the difficulty in overtaking during the race.
The German is looking for his third Monaco win and the 50th of his career on Sunday when, many drivers have suggested, the use of a new ‘hyper-soft’ tire with pink sidewalls will deliver record laps.
That prospect and the likely return of grid girls as the Monaco organizers defy F1’s new American owners Liberty Media who ended the tradition this year has added to the keen sense of anticipation.
Pirelli boss Mario Isola said the ‘hyper’ is a step up in performance and is likely to be used both in qualifying and the race.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Renault, who tested the new tire at Barcelona following the Spanish Grand Prix, said he expected it to make a major impact.
“It is quite impressive, that tyre, I must say,” said Sainz. “It gives easily a second per lap and that was at Barcelona. Around Monaco, this tire could be something special.
“We could see some very quick laps. I would be prepared for lap records again – and in qualifying it will be absolute madness. It will be crazy.
“Last year, with the new cars, it was something incredible and this year with a two steps softer compound and a tire that for me is the best tire Pirelli has done in a lot of years, it’s going to be crazy.”
As Vettel bids to bounce back, after leading the championship earlier in the season, he and Hamilton both fear as major challenge also from Red Bull who will be celebrating their 250th race start on Sunday.
They won both their 100th and 150th races and Dutchman Max Verstappen believes they should be making a major impact this weekend.
“The team has worked hard and I feel we should be really competitive this time,” he said.
Hamilton and Mercedes are expecting Red Bull to be a threat.
“It is going to be a serious challenge,” said Hamilton.
“The others are going to be hard to beat. If you look at Daniel Ricciardo, in Spain, he was much quicker in the last sector and the last sector is all down-force, so they’re going to be rapid in Monaco, and very hard to beat.
“Montreal as well, where it’s very, very hard to get temperature into the tires, it’s going to be multiple laps of driving to get temperatures into those tires there.
“So different things that are coming up are challenging, I don’t think it’s going to be as clear as it was at every single race.”
1. Lewis Hamilton (GBR) 95 pts
2. Sebastian Vettel (GER) 78
3. Valtteri Bottas (FIN) 58,
4. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN) 48
5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) 47
6. Max Verstappen (NED) 33
7. Fernando Alonso (ESP) 32
8. Nico Hülkenberg (GER) 22
9. Kevin Magnussen (DEN) 19
10. Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) 19
11. Sergio Pérez (MEX) 17
12. Pierre Gasly (FRA) 12
13. Charles Leclerc (MON) 9
14. Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) 8
15. Lance Stroll (CAN) 4
16. Marcus Ericsson (SWE) 2
17. Esteban Ocon (FRA) 1
18. Brendon Hartley (NZL) 1
1. Mercedes 153 pts, 2. Ferrari 126, 3. Red Bull 80, 4. Renault 41, 5. McLaren 40, 6. Haas 19, 7. Force India 18, 8. Toro Rosso 13, 9. Sauber 11, 10. Williams 4