A change of personnel hasn’t helped Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup fortunes, as Emirates Team New Zealand moved to within four races of victory in the first-to-nine series.
Dean Barker’s crew once again pounced on the third leg, passing Oracle for a 47 second win and a 5-0 series lead (effectively 5 to -1 due to Oracle's pre-regatta punishment).
James Spithill and his new tactician Ben Ainslie comfortably won the start and rounded the first mark nine seconds clear.
A bad gybe saw most of that lead disappeared, but the defenders stayed far enough ahead of the disturbed air from the NZ boat to hold a 0.12 lead at Mark 2.
The boats split out of the gate for the pivotal third leg into the wind, Oracle heading to the coast and ETNZ under the protection of Alcatraz.
That proved to be a better decision at the first cross as the defenders dipped behind NZ, but less current behind the island had Oracle back in front the next time the boats came together.
The lead swapped again at the third cross, Barker dialling down on Spithill and increasing the lead.
The move drew a protest from Oracle – the second of the leg, and like the first it was waved away by the umpires.
From there, NZL5’s superior upwind speed put them comfortably in front and in control of the race, 200 metres ahead and 0.44 ahead.
As has been the case through the series, there were no passing lanes downwind, allowing Barker to cruise over the line 0.47 ahead of Oracle.
The second race of the day is set to begin at 9:15