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After two weeks of qualifiers, Oracle Team USA finally has a Challenger for the 35th America’s Cup. Emirates New Zealand, led by Peter Burling, defeated Artemis Racing Sweden 5-2 on Monday to advance to the 35th Annual America’s Cup Finals. New Zealand’s win ultimately ousted Britain from contention, and it set up a grudge match for the Kiwis and the Yankees. It was the first time New Zealand has defeated Sweden in this year’s event, and it couldn’t possibly have come at a better time.
It certainly wasn’t an easy road for Emirates. They had their boat capsize in the semifinal against Britain, but the team was able to recover and preserve their (at the time) 3-1 lead. Everyone was fine in the incident, and it highlighted the tumultuous weather conditions that participants were forced to deal with throughout the Cup. Oracle will be competing for their third consecutive America’s Cup victory, hoping to keep the name apt.
These two teams certainly have a history. In 2013, in San Francisco, Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill led the Yanks to Patriots-esque comeback from a 1-8 deficit to win 9-8 over Emirates Team New Zealand. And for more on how the team trains and readies for the challenge, be sure to watch the above video.
Peter Burling wasn’t on that team, which includes only one holdover on the starting crew: wing trimmer and skipper Glenn Ashby. The 2017 Emirates Team New Zealand doesn’t appear to be scarred from that experience, per AmericasCup.com. “I think the lessons we learned out of San Francisco has made us stronger going forwards,” Ashby said at the post-race press conference. “The team has been re-built from the ground up and what has been created is a stronger unit than we’ve ever seen before. The motivation going forwards is certainly there.”