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Bernie Wilson: Near-perfect Kiwis take control of America's Cup qualifiers

QUOTE-UNQUOTE: It figures that the new-look qualifiers would come down to a showdown between the two powerhouse rivals that will forever be linked by the epic 2013 America's Cup. Oracle — skippered by Australian Jimmy Spithill and owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison — staged one of the greatest comebacks in sports by winning eight straight races to rally from an 8-1 deficit and retain the Auld Mug. It was a gut-wrenching collapse for the Kiwis, who sacked skipper Dean Barker and rebuilt their team around 26-year-old helmsman Peter Burling, an Olympic gold and silver medalist. 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. In one of the many radical departures from tradition, this is the first time the defender has sailed against challengers in the preliminaries. The bonus point is another new twist. Letting the defender sail against the challengers has made it "way more compelling and let's face it, there's something worth fighting for," Spithill said. "That race tomorrow between the Kiwis and us, that's the bonus point. So I think it's worked." –Veteran Cup journalist Bernie Wilson in his daily AC wrap-up story for the AP, via the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Full story.

ETNZ competing today on Bermuda's Great Sound. They won both their races today, and now sit alone at the top of the leaderboard with what could be a crucial race tomorrow with OTUSA. Photo: ACEA.