U.S. secure first win of America’s Cup, trail New Zealand 4-1 | Reuters

By Alexander Smith and Tessa Walsh
| HAMILTON, Bermuda

HAMILTON, Bermuda Defending champions Oracle Team USA clawed their way back into the America’s Cup on Saturday with a much-needed win over Emirates Team New Zealand to reduce their deficit to 4-1 in the first-to-seven final.

The U.S. victory in the second race of the day gave the team backed by billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison hope of another comeback against New Zealand.

Oracle Team USA won the cup in 2013 in San Francisco after staging one of the most astonishing sporting comebacks against New Zealand, winning 9-8 after having been 8-1 down.

The U.S. team have spent the week working on making improvements to their 50-foot (15 meter) foiling catamaran in an effort to match the superior speed of their New Zealand rivals, who are using a revolutionary cycling system with which their sailors provide the power needed to control the boat.

“That was exactly what the boys needed …. we’ve had a good improvement on our boat speed today and I think another step tomorrow would be great,” a pumped-up Jimmy Spithill, the U.S. skipper, said from onboard his boat after the race.

“We worked very very hard those five days and we sailed probably five times as much as the other guys and did a lot of work on the shore and I’d just like to see the boat go quicker,” Spithill said, adding that they would be doing more overnight.

BATTLE SCARS

The arch-rivals are due to resume battle on Bermuda’s Great Sound on Sunday, with another two races scheduled. The U.S. win means the racing will now go into Monday or beyond.

“It was great to see those boys actually sailing a little bit better … these guys just sailed well and we’re just excited about the battle ahead,” New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said following the rare defeat.

After five days with no racing, both crews have been working to improve the performance of their…

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