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Team NZ win Louis Vuitton finals - next up Oracle

PUBLISHED: 8:44AM Monday August 26, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

Team NZ will take on Oracle Team USA in a best-of-17 race series starting Sunday, September 8, after another convincing win in this morning's eighth race of the Louis Vuitton final series against Luna Rossa.

Skipper Dean Barker again won the start over Luna Rossa's Chris Draper and as in previous races, Team NZ quickly surged ahead, stretching their lead to a minute-and-a-half at the second mark at the end of the downwind leg.

"It was a little different, coming into a pre-start and not knowing where the other yacht is, but fortunately it cleared up a bit," said Barker. "We've seen some difficult days, but today was right up there."

The eventual winning margin of more than three minutes completed a 7-1 win in eight Louis Vuitton finals races.

Today's contest was fought in thick fog on San Francisco Bay, with Team NZ members all wearing sunglasses to help spot "wind on the water".

They clinched the Louis Vuitton finals for the third time in the 30-year history of the event, their only defeat coming after a gear failure in Race Two of the finals.

With the much-anticipated showdown against Oracle less than a fortnight away, the Kiwis will spend the next 13 days fine-tuning crew work and seeking further boat speed from their AC72 catamaran.

"The boat is going back in the shed for quite a few more mods actually and we'll get a few days off," said tactician Ray Davies. "We've put a ban on ourselves for long distance travel - none of the boys are allowed to go to Vegas.

"We'll have a party tonight and a mellow few days off, and then a build-up toward the Cup."

Barker was also adamant this victory represented just a step toward Team New Zealand's ultimate goal.

"We've definitely come here to win the America's Cup and this is all part of the preparation," he said. "The guys are extremely focused.

"We came up short in Valencia in 2007, so we'll give it our all over the next two weeks to make sure we're as ready as we can be."

They won't be alone, with Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena pledging his team's continued support through the next stage of the regatta.

"This is the first time two teams worked so closely together to win the Cup and obvioulsy we wish them the best of luck for the match."

Barker also acknowledged that relationship in the awards presentation.

"Without them, we wouldn't be here."

Much attention will also turn to findings of an international jury over allegations Oracle made illegal modifications to their AC45 - and effectively cheated - during several America's Cup World Series regattas stretching back to last year.

Oracle will face the international jury this week, with any penalties expected to be handed down before the start of the America's Cup finals.

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