New Zealand One Win Away From America’s Cup Against Team USA

Emirates Team New Zealand is one win away from facing defending champion Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup match.

In yesterday’s only race, New Zealand defeated Italy’s Luna Rossa in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals to take a 6-1 lead in the best-of-13 series. The second race was postponed because of high winds.

The Kiwis set a race record of more than 54 miles per hour (47 knots) with their 72-foot (22-meter) catamaran on San Francisco Bay.

“You can’t help but get a buzz from it,” Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said after the race. “You definitely know when it’s really ripping because the thing feels like it’s going to shake itself to pieces.”

Luna Rossa also set a personal speed record of 43.46 knots (50 mph), helmsman Chris Draper said. The Italian team trailed the winner by one minute, 58 seconds.

“Ten years ago, we’d have set the world-speed record today,” Draper said. “Our performance records show we’ve gotten a lot better, but so have the Kiwis, and they’re continuing to improve. It’s very, very impressive.”

Two races are scheduled today, and Team New Zealand can take the series with victory in the first. The America’s Cup match will begin Sept. 8.