Two-time defending America's Cup champion Team Oracle of the United States has been unseated by a challenger in the America's Cup, with Emirates Team New Zealand having defeated them 7-1 in an amazing display of sailing. The dismantling was so thorough that America's captain, Jimmy Spithill, didn't rule out the possibility of stepping down as skipper during the series. Peter Burling of New Zealand outclassed Spithill from the jump, much to the shock of longtime fans of the sport.
New Zealand is threatening to become a new superpower in the yachting world, as this marks Burling's first appearance as skipper for them. "It is student teaching the master," said former America's Cup sailor Ken Read. Notably, this was not the first time New Zealand held a large lead over the United States. They led 8-1 in 2013 when the Cup was held in San Francisco, but they couldn't hang on. Burling's deft navigation proved to be the difference this time, however.
Team New Zealand is just that, a team, and they own it. A cyclor for New Zealand, Andy Maloney, has taken note of this simple fact. "We pride ourselves on not everything being put into Peter or Glenn [Ashby]'s hands," he said. "Whereas you see Jimmy Spithill and Tom Slingsby pretty much doing 99 percent of the work on the other boat."
When asked about stepping down, Spithill was curt. "Look, everything is on the table," he said. As they struggled, numerous other problems came to light. New Zealand implemented a cycling system that made each member more efficient, and Oracle reportedly struggled with technology malfunctioning and leading them astray. What resulted was a perfect storm that has left the sailing world with one of the biggest shockers since the turn of the century. New Zealand's new system could be extremely difficult to beat, and when they go into the next Cup as defenders, whoever will be challenging them will have their work cut out for them. That was the case for the defenders this year, as no matter what Oracle did, Emirates did it better.