Near-perfect Kiwis take control of America's Cup qualifiers

Jono Macbeth successfully defended the America's Cup with Team New Zealand in 2000

In this photo provided by the America's Cup Event Authority, Emirates Team New Zealand and Groupama Team France (not shown) compete during America's Cup qualifying on the Great Sound in Bermuda on Friday, June 2, 2017.

New Zealand are seeking to avenge their 2013 defeat by Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA in San Francisco and as the highest scoring of the challengers, will be able to decide which crew they contest the challenger semi-finals against.

Victory for Emirates Team New Zealand, their second during Friday's racing, put them ahead of the US defending champions in the qualifying races.

Oracle punctured Team Zealands hopes of winning the qualifiers to claim the one-point advantage heading into the first-to-seven series, which starts in two weeks.

The result means the USA team will have a point lead against whoever gets to challenge them in a head-to-head match, which will be won by the first team to get to seven points.

In their final race of the 35th America's Cup, Groupama Team France failed to achieve a fairytale send off and give their fans one final victory as they ended their Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers campaign with a disappointing defeat to Artemis Racing. Also Saturday, the British boat beat Team Japan and Artemis Racing beat Groupama Team France, which was eliminated Friday.

The race on Saturday local time (shortly after 5am Sunday in NZ) was full of drama from the start as Team New Zealand tried to out-muscle Oracle.

The pre-race pressure was high with the victor of the monumental clash not only taking the bragging rights, but also importantly topping the final Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers table which means taking a vital point into the showpiece America's Cup Match. presented by Louis Vuitton.

Cavs blow out Celts to reach finals
I know that both sides are relatively exhausted at this point of the season, but that just makes it an even playing field. With Iguodala hurting, and Durant playing more of a rim protector role this year, Green seems like the next best option.

Emirates Team New Zealand recovered superbly to close the deficit completely by gate 3 as the teams headed into the turn together.

But they could not repeat the feat against Oracle Team USA and the US crew, with a win over Ben Ainslie's British team, finished top of the qualifier table.

It's just one of the radical departures from tradition in this America's Cup, which, perhaps fittingly, is being sailed on the northern tip of the Bermuda Triangle.

"Really excited. The race against the Kiwis is going to be the decider for us in the bonus point".

Oracle started that series down two points after being penalized for the biggest cheating scandal in America's Cup history. We wanted that point, like the rest of the teams.

"Both times we've raced Team NZ they've made some pretty fundamental mistakes - at the start line today, and then at the top mark again, just like the first time we lined up", he said.

Already assured of topping the table, Team USA closed out round-robin action with a victory over Britain's Land Rover BAR to take their total to nine points.

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