Reuters Ian Ransom
Team New Zealand rallied superbly to level the America’s Cup match at 2-2 on Friday after challenger Luna Rossa took the honours in the early race in light winds off the coast of Auckland.
Luna Rossa won the opener by 37 seconds but defender TNZ hit back with a 63-second victory, the most dominant of the best-of-13 series so far, to buoy home fans crowded on the foreshore.
Getting a jump at the start proved important in Wednesday’s opening day and was again a factor on Friday when TNZ sneaked an early lead in the second race and won with a time of 29 minutes and 53 seconds.
All four races have now been won from starting entries from the port side.
“That was a really good race for us, just got off the start line slightly better than the race before,” said TNZ’s flight controller Blair Tuke.
“Very similar positionings but we just managed to get the jump on them before the boundary. Boat is going really well and managed to extend nicely.”
It was a sparkling comeback after Luna Rossa had eased to a comfortable win in the earlier race, clocking 27:18.
After a clean start from both yachts, the Italians dominated the upwind legs to leave TNZ in their wake.
Though edged at the start of race two, Luna Rossa were in the hunt for most of the first two legs until it all went awry with a poor jibe shortly before the second gate.
The hull dipped into the water as their foils dragged, allowing TNZ to roar ahead and shift the pressure back onto the Italians ahead of day three on Saturday.
“1-1 scoreline, great racing from both teams,” said Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill.
“Full credit to the Kiwis, they did a nice job in that race. We’re looking forward to tomorrow.
“First time in a long time we’ve had these boats together in a lighter range and again both boats proved they could win races.”