EmiratesTeam New Zealand are within four race wins of claiming back the America's Cup after they won all four races against Oracle Team USA on the opening weekend of the 35th America's Cup match in Bermuda. As with the 34th America's Cup - when Emirates Team New Zealand were the team that worked out the AC72 could be a foiler - they have again proved to be great innovators.
The New Zealand boat now needs another eight wins to take The Auld Mug back to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, where it resided from 1995 until 2003.
This is a rematch of that epic regatta, when Team New Zealand, then skippered by Dean Barker, reached match point at 8-1 before Oracle Team USA won eight straight races on San Francisco Bay to retain the oldest trophy in global sports.
In relatively light winds, Burling continued to sail smoothly, extending the Kiwis' advantage to a healthy margin of one minute and 52 seconds over their rivals by the fifth gate.
ORACLE TEAM USA is looking to win its third consecutive America's Cup, a feat last achieved by the same team in the 1930s.
Oracle had entered the series with a one-point advantage from an earlier regatta, which New Zealand wiped out after winning the first race on Saturday. Oracle needs to win seven to keep the silver trophy in the hands of American software billionaire Larry Ellison.
Racing resumes Saturday and Sunday.
"We're more anxious about how to make the boat go quicker, how to get around the track quicker".
"I think what happened is that we lost a rudder", revealed Spithill, reflecting on the manoeuvre that all but ended their challenge.
Oracle does have history on its side.
This is a rematch of the epic 2013 America's Cup, when Team New Zealand, then skippered by Dean Barker, reached match point at 8-1 before Oracle Team USA won eight straight races to retain the oldest trophy in global sports.
He then upstaged Kiwi helmsman Peter Burling when, asked if he knew who Team New Zealand would pick for its opponent in the challenger semifinals, said: "From the leak I've got in their team, they're picking Ben Ainslie Racing". While no one knows who will win the America's Cup - the dynamics in play now are very different from 2013. The teams hungry. Theyre a very, very competitive group.
"We need to make some serious changes".
"We're under no illusions", said Burling, 26. "We felt we really improved a lot on yesterday". "But we also made a lot of mistakes".
So far, the Kiwis and their cycling grinding system have proven too fast for Oracle in light, shifty wind.
But Spithill insisted there was still room to make useful adjustments to the complicated systems that control the space-age craft, and to "appendages" including the massive fixed-wing sails, rudders and the daggerboards that allow the boats to foil - virtually flying with their twin hulls above the water surface.
Oracle Team USA's track record of performing when their backs are against the wall and the intervening five days should set up a fascinating showdown to the competition as both teams race to modify their boats and improve performance.