June 3 Oracle Team USA ensured they will start their defence of the America's Cup with a crucial extra point by beating Emirates Team New Zealand and Britain's Land Rover BAR to win the qualifier event on Saturday.
"I think the point could end up being incredibly important", said Spithill, who forced Team New Zealand skipper Peter Burling into a penalty at the start and won by 29 seconds in a race between the teams that sailed the epic 2013 America's Cup match. But before then, the U.S. and New Zealand will cap the round robin with a rematch of the 2013 America's Cup match in San Francisco on Saturday.
The Kiwis will be looking to recover from their daunting loss to Oracle yesterday, with Team New Zealand effectively bullied off the course by their American opposition. Team Japan routed Team France in the day's first race.
"We clearly had some issues controlling that daggerboard and we knew we had a big race coming up against France and chose to give our guys a chance to fix the issue, which they did brilliantly as always", Ainslie added.
Emirates Team New Zealand's decision to face Land Rover BAR means the remaining two teams to have progressed from the qualifiers, SoftBank Team Japan and Artemis Racing, will face off in the other America's Cup Challenger Playoffs semi-final.
In one of the many radical departures from tradition, this is the first time the defender has sailed against challengers in the preliminaries.
"Team Sweden have also beaten Team Japan twice in qualifying rounds and enter that match-up with an upper hand.In an apparent slip of the tongue, Artemis skipper Nathan Outteridge didn't seem to give BAR any chance of progressing to the challenger finals".
"We're really happy that we've made it through this first round and we've got to this stage".
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Asked if he rated it his best performance of the season, Murray said: "I played some good matches at the beginning of the year". With some exquisite returning and acutely angled groundstrokes, Murray raced through the final set and into the fourth round.
Oracle had to quickly fix a broken rudder before its race against Artemis Racing of Sweden on Friday.
The forecast for tomorrow is much more promising for a full day of action, with a moderate breeze of 10-14 knots expected on the Great Sound.
Despite the setback, SoftBank Team Japan recovered brilliantly to close the gap to their rivals ahead of the next gate as the two teams crossed paths before the turn.
New Zealand's ability to stay on their foils throughout the entirety of the race set them apart in both races. Oracle struggled for speed in the early races on San Francisco Bay and replaced tactician John Kostecki with British sailing star Ben Ainslie.
He's been saved in this regatta by two bonus points earned by leading the fleet after the America's Cup World Series the last two years.
Peter Burling will have Ben Ainslie in his sights, with two races today to begin to cement their place against the victor of the second semi-final tie - Artemis v Team Japan.
Another factor giving Japan a "home" advantage is that they have based themselves in Bermuda with Oracle Team USA since they were founded in 2015.