America’s Cup 2021: Three reasons Peter Burling is stealing the show

The America’s Cup is so close they can taste it – but don’t expect Team New Zealand to get carried away.

While other parties may be making plans, including the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, who are getting paperwork together for an agreement with the next Challenger of Record, the sailors are taking it one race at a time.

Just as we saw in Bermuda four years ago, there is no sense of an impending triumph; no high fives or hoopla, until they actually seal the deal.

At the moment that seems like a when, not if, scenario. Not just because of the scoreboard – which leaves the Italians with a mountain to climb at 6-3 down – but also due to an obvious shift in momentum.

Team New Zealand have a slight speed edge in most conditions and seem to be getting quicker, while they are also improving their transitions and boat handling with every race.

They also seem to be making better decisions – or enjoying a touch of fate – as illustrated on Tuesday when they grabbed a late wind shift to snatch another unlikely win, after trailing for most of the race, following their get out of jail moment on Monday.

But helmsman Peter Burling won’t countenance talk of what might be around the corner, preferring to concentrate on the here and now.

“We are just going out to keep learning and improving and doing the best we can,” said Burling. “Obviously we are here to try and win yacht races, but we will keep fighting for as long as it takes.”

“This team has been in this position before so we are just trying to keep improving, keep moving forward. We are just trying to put our best foot forward, doing everything we can to keep winning races.”

“We are really excited about another race but we know that [race nine] was a pretty close one, so we are going to have to sail just as well in the next one.”

Burling was understandably thrilled with another comeback victory on Tuesday, an incredible contest that featured six lead changes.

“It was a pretty tight race and one little right shift up that last beat decided it for us,” said Burling. “We did a pretty good job at the start but couldn’t quite get rid of them before the boundary. We knocked pretty hard on the way back and ended up being bounced back left.”

The 30-year-old, who is on the cusp of being just the third helmsman in the modern era to manage successive Cup triumphs, enjoyed the belated return to the inner harbour ‘stadium course’ and waters he knows well.

“It is pretty epic out [there],” said Burling. “Great to be back on Course C and having a good fun battle with a really good team.”

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.

• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.

• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.

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