The only pressure skipper Paul Cayard felt was the kind that filled AmericaOne's sails. Now he needs one victory to reach the America's Cup final.
Cayard, cool in his remarkable comeback from a 3-1 deficit, solved the fluky breezes of the Hauraki Gulf, figuring the wind pressure on the right side would be greater at the start, and led Prada after all six legs today.
AmericaOne's 1-minute, 6-second victory was its third straight as it took a 4-3 lead in the best-of-nine challenger final. The Italians never were in the race after making the mistake of starting on the left side. Now they must win Saturday or be eliminated.
Cayard, an aggressive sailor, won't let up.
"Why would we?" he said. "Absolutely not."
One victory and Cayard can take aim at defending champion New Zealand in the best-of-nine final that starts Feb. 19.
The Americans have gotten better as the series has progressed. Even when he had dinner with tactician John Kostecki with AmericaOne trailing 3-1, Cayard remained confident. "We truly didn't even talk about yacht racing," Kostecki said. "We were just having some fun, relaxed. We're both winners, and we knew we were going to come back."
Prada skipper Francesco de Angelis better change something if Italy is to stay in contention to win its first Cup. He kept his boat on the water after today's loss, trying out a different mainsail.
In the past four races, AmericaOne has led at 22 of 24 marks.
"We're not going to change much," Kostecki said. "Things are going well, so we're just going to keep pushing hard."