Team NZ near capsizes in second America’s Cup loss
UPDATE: Race 9 was abandoned in its early moments, with Emirates Team NZ ahead, as winds topped the safety limit of 30 knots in the America's Cup being sailed on San Francisco harbour.
The abandonment ended a nail-biting day for New Zealand that brought the series to 6-0 to Team NZ after Oracle recovered from its two-point penalty for cheating before the series began.
In the second race today,Team NZ started in the favoured leeward (inward) position again and Oracle had the faster boat but was penalised briefly for sailing too close.
Team NZ took its lead to 40m at halfway in the downward leg as the boats battled for advantage with little between them.
Commentators say Oracle has made changes that bolster its upward speed at the expense of going slower downward. This has made the boat more competitive and is aimed at forcing Team NZ into making mistakes, as happened in the near-capsize in today’s the first race.
At the gate 2 bottom course marker, Team NZ held the lead in a repeat of the first race with a 7s margin just as official word came that the wind had exceeded the 30-knot limit for racing.
EARLIER: A near capsize by Emirates Team NZ in a crucial mid-race tacking duel gave Oracle its second win in the eighth race of the America’s Cup sailed on San Francisco harbour.
Team NZ lost its lead when the boat went vertical in a tack with a close lead but regained its balance in much higher winds and tougher tidal conditions than previous races.
At the start, Team NZ elected to go on the inward side of the course and took the lead easily.
At the first marker Team NZ was doing a speedy 43 knots as the boats headed into the first upward leg against a strong current.
Oracle opted to take the wider course for more wind to try to overtake the New Zealanders but had a slower speed at the bottom of the first jibe.
Team NZ soon extended its lead to 115m in the first leg approaching gate two for the downward leg.
At the marker, Team NZ was 8s ahead with Oracle closing the gap to 23m. But after another tack it lost speed and Team NZ gained a 40m lead in a duel that provided the racing highlight to that point.
Oracle took the lead at one stage and gained the starboard advantage, only to lose it when Team NZ nearly flipped. The boat remarkably recovered after rising to 45 degrees but the race was effectively over as Oracle sped away and Team NZ had no chance of catching up.
Oracle crossed the line 700m ahead of Team NZ to eliminate a two-point penalty at the start of the series.
Nine wins are needed to claim the America's Cup. Two more races are scheduled for tomorrow.
"When these boats capsize, they come back in 1000 pieces," commentator Chris Dixon said after the race.
If the boat had tipped one more degree, it would have gone over.
Immediately after the race, Team NZ captain Barker said there were no mechanical problems and that Team NZ would participate in the second race of the day.
Team NZ has two boats, but the second is incomplete and would require enough undamaged parts to be recovered from the first in the event of a major spill.
Team NZ manager Grant Dalton was back on board for the second race after being absent duriing both of Team NZ's losses.