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The Kiwis are back to challenge team USA

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Oracle Team USA skippered by Jimmy Spithill and Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by Peter Burling in action during a training session ahead of the Americas Cup Match Presented by Louis Vuitton on June 15, 2017 in Hamilton, Bermuda Clive Mason/Getty Images/AFP

Four years after the Americans' miraculous comeback - and the Kiwis' disastrous collapse - in San Francisco, the 35th America's Cup Match, a best-of-13 series starts on Saturday. And let's just say that the Battle of Bermuda is on.


The return match between America's Cup defender Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand promises another epic edition of yachting's most famous competition, on Bermuda's Great Sound.

Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby is adamant he has the boat and the crew "in the hunt" for the America's Cup.

Emirates Team New Zealand take on defenders Oracle Team USA in the first two races of the Cup match in Bermuda on Saturday.

This is a dream rematch of their epic 2013 showdown.

Oracle earned bragging rights in San Francisco and claimed a psychological edge over the Kiwis by winning their two round-robin races in Bermuda, the second victory earning them a one-point advantage to take into a Cup match.

But there is still plenty of anticipation for the fireworks the familiar foes - with the jaw-dropping capabilities of their 50-foot foiling catamarans at their disposal - will produce.

Ashby is the lone hold-over among the first-choice crew from the debacle in San Francisco that saw the Kiwis squander an 8-1 lead and fall 9-8 to Oracle.

"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," Ashby said after New Zealand dispatched Artemis Racing of Sweden in the challenger final.

Ashby acknowledged that after 2013, the Kiwis are highly motivated.

He feels they have learned plenty in a short time since then to make them more than competitive for the final.

"We are sailing the boat a hell of a lot better now than we were a week or two ago. I really feel like we do have a chance," said Ashby.

"There's one thing for sure though and that's over the last week or so Oracle haven't got slower. But both teams have probably stepped forward and I think we are in a position where if we sail our boat well, we're definitely in with a chance. That's the only position to be in."

Team USA's Aussie skipper Jimmy Spithill has played up the grudge match angle.

Some members of two crews have been involved in some light-hearted social media banter during the week, after Spithill posted a cartoon depicting an American bald eagle swooping in and seizing upon a helpless Kiwi.

"#BattleofBermuda" was the caption of the cartoon he posted on Instagram this week depicting an American eagle swooping to grasp a cowering Kiwi in its talons.

So the pressure is definitely on.