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New Zealand beats Oracle for fourth time in America's Cup

HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand are threatening to sail -- and cycle -- away with the America's Cup.

Burling, 26, calmly steered the Kiwis' 50-foot catamaran to two more dominating victories over Jimmy Spithill and two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA on Sunday to remain undefeated in the showdown on the Great Sound.

Although they have won four races, the Kiwis lead Oracle 3-0. Because Oracle won the qualifiers, the challenger started the 35th America's Cup match with a negative point.

Burling, an America's Cup rookie who has won Olympic gold and silver medals with grinder Blair Tuke, steered the Kiwis to victories of 49 seconds and 1 minute, 12 seconds on the turquoise waters.

Team New Zealand needs to win four more races to return the Auld Mug to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, where it resided from 1995 to 2003. Oracle needs to win seven to keep the silver trophy in the hands of American software billionaire Larry Ellison.

Well-funded Oracle Team USA has five days to try to come with some answers to counter the spot-on design innovations by the scrappy Kiwis, who are getting by with much less funding.

Racing resumes Saturday.

This is a rematch of the epic 2013 America's Cup, when Team New Zealand, then skippered by Dean Barker, reached match point at 8-1 before Spithill lead Oracle Team USA to eight straight victories on San Francisco Bay to retain the oldest trophy in international sports.

So far, New Zealand and its cycling grinding system have proved too fast for Oracle in light, shifty wind. The team has also made the right choices on which foils to use on the ends of their daggerboards. The Kiwis used the same foils they did in speeding to two victories Saturday, while the American-backed crew appeared to use two different foils.

The Kiwis are using a "cyclor" grinding system. They have built four stationary cycling stations into each hull to tap leg power instead of traditional arm power from the grinders to power the hydraulic systems that control the wing mainsail and the daggerboards. Simon van Velthooven, who won a bronze medal in cycling at the London Olympics, was aboard for Race 3. Olympic rowing champion Joe Sullivan replaced him for Race 4.

Spithill, an Australian, is trying to win his third straight America's Cup before he turns 38.

Oracle made an unforced error when its catamaran came off its foils early on the downwind second leg. That was enough for Burling to speed away around the seven-leg course for a 49-second victory.

In Race 4, the Kiwis held a slim lead at the first mark and simply sped away.