Oracle Team USA continued its dramatic comeback in the America's Cup sailing regatta on Sunday, routing Emirates Team New Zealand in the first of two scheduled races.
After a strong start that gave it an four-second lead around the first mark, Oracle poured it on in the initial run with the wind, opening up an 18-second lead, and then showed a surprising speed advantage on the upwind leg to all but seal the victory.
Oracle Team USA, the defending Cup champion, crossed the finish line 47 seconds ahead of challenger New Zealand.
New Zealand now leads the competition six points to one -Oracle's first two wins were negated by a cheating penalty before the finals began. The first team to nine points will take home the trophy.
Until Oracle's win on Saturday, New Zealand had dominated the competition with superior tacking and boatspeed when heading into the wind. But Oracle made adjustments in its boat late last week that appear to have been highly effective.
The wind was near the first-race limit of 20.8 knots as the competition began on a crystal clear day on San Francisco Bay. A second race was scheduled for Sunday afternoon, but the winds generally increase as the day goes on and may prove too heavy for further racing.
A big crowd was on hand Sunday for the newly-competitive event, which the previous day drew 52,000 to viewing areas along the Bay.
The regatta appeared to be all but over on Friday as New Zealand, which trounced challengers from Italy and Sweden to gain the finals, completely dominated the defending U.S. champions in the initial finals races.
Now, though, the Kiwis, who are partially funded by the New Zealand government and have a fervent fan base back home, are faced with a dog fight.