Oracle beats Kiwis to earn America's Cup match bonus point

Burling was far happier about his teams continued progression, which has led to them climbing to the top of the standings to become favourites to ultimately challenge Oracle Team USA for the Americas Cup in two weeks time. It's the first time a bonus point has been awarded for the match.

There's still plenty to get used to in this America's Cup. Oracle then mounted one of the greatest comebacks in sports, winning eight straight races to retain the Auld Mug.

And perhaps it's only fitting that this Americas Cup is being sailed on the northern tip of the Bermuda Triangle, because it doesn't look like any previous edition in the regatta's 166-year history.

The holders now have to sit on the sidelines until June 17 when they will defend the cup against one of the challengers. The bonus point is another new twist.

After Spithill elected not to cover most of the way up the beat and let the Kiwis sail their own race.

They were latecomers to the competition, and their budget of 30 million euros (US$33.8 million) is significantly smaller than those of the other teams, whose outlay is closer to 100 million euros.

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"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.

Oracle had to quickly fix a broken rudder before its race against Artemis Racing of Sweden on Friday. Oracle made it onto the course in time but lost to Artemis by 24 seconds.

"We know to go and race Oracle, we're going to have to beat, now, Dean [Barker] and Team New Zealand", he said. "That's what we're excited about".

But the Japanese boat ended up trailing Emirates Team New Zealand off the line and around mark one. "It's all about the Kiwi race", Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill told the briefing.

One big question is whether Oracle might copy Team NZ's innovative pedal-power approach to a greater extent than they already have. Britain's Land Rover BAR brought in two bonus points for leading the ACWS standings.

Oracle has a second race Saturday, against Land Rover BAR.

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That seems highly unlikely, though. They are very fast and so for us it will be a real battle.

After Saturday, Oracle will train on its own while the challengers sail their semifinals and finals.

Their place in the play-offs was confirmed on Thursday after their victory over France - who were then eliminated on Friday following defeat by New Zealand, which left them bottom with just two wins.

SoftBank Team Japan also gets expertise in aerodynamics, instrumentation, simulation, composites, structures, hydraulics and data analysis from Airbus, the European plane maker and "innovation partner" to both teams.

Those four teams will race in a first-to-five-points format. The British were off Friday. Team USA beat New Zealand and Britain last night to win the qualifying group.

Groupama Team France finished their America's Cup campaign with a loss to Artemis Racing.

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