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Bernie Wilson: America’s Cup reaches crossroads as Kiwis near win

HAMILTON, BER – The Kiwis lead 3-0 in the first-to-seven match. Because Oracle won the qualifiers, the Kiwis started at minus-1.The underfunded yet scrappy Kiwis need four more wins to give American software billionaire Larry Ellison the heave-ho and take the silver trophy back to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, where it resided from 1995-2003. Perhaps the most keen observer this weekend will be New Zealander Russell Coutts, one of the most dominant figures in the regatta’s history. He once sailed undefeated through three straight America’s Cup matches for two countries, the first two with Team New Zealand and the third for Switzerland, before winning two more as CEO of Oracle Team USA. His quest for a third victory as Ellison’s top sailing lieutenant is in jeopardy. Coutts, who is in the unusual role of also being CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority, has been at Oracle’s base trying to help the team figure out how to sail the boat better. Without time to make major modifications to the boat, technique will be key against the Kiwis, who have been spot-on in maneuvering their boat, especially in light to medium breeze. –The AP's Bernie Wilson weighing in with his usual insightful piece that tees up this weekend's racing beautifully. Read the full story on the AP website here.

After a brief practice sail this morning, the ETNZ shore team wheel their AC50 into the shed, putting her to bed on the eve of what will likely be the pivotal day of AC35. Assuming it's not below the 6-knot wind limit (and it will be close), if they can win both races in tomorrow's light air they will have an almost unassailable lead of 5-0 in the first to win 7. But then 8-1 looked pretty good for the Kiwis at San Francisco in 2013. Photo courtesy of Richard Gladwell of

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