By Mike Stone
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Emirates Team New Zealand won Sunday's final race of the New York City stop for the America's Cup World Series (ACWS) to remain on top in the points race competition between the world's top sailing teams.
The two-day event provided America's Cup skippers a chance to get back on the boats, assess the competition, and further develop the skills and tactics that could be crucial in next year's America's Cup in Bermuda.
Sunday's three races were held on the Hudson River before thousands of spectators, watching in breezy sunshine on the New York promenade the 44-foot twin-hulled sailboats known as AC45Fs rise up on retractable hydrofoil keels and rudders and create the appearance of flying over the surface of the water.
Lively wind from the northwest compounded the effect of the southbound current in the Hudson and Emirates Team New Zealand won the third race as a flukey breeze propelled them from the near the back of the pack to win the last race and the regatta.
Oracle Team USA finished second with Softbank Team Japan third in the final race.
Sweden's entry Artemis Racing held the lead for most of the first race and clinched the win. After race organizers shortened the course for the second race, Groupama Team France won the second race with Oracle Team USA second.
The ACWS overall standings remained unchanged with Emirates Team New Zealand, Oracle Team USA and Land Rover BAR, the British entry, rounding out the top three places. Softbank Team Japan, Artemis Racing and Groupama Team France are fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
Light wind conditions and a swift current on the Hudson River made officials abandon Saturday's first race and deem the second one a "substitute race," only counting in the standings if Sunday's conditions did not permit racing.
The substitute race was won by Softbank Team Japan skippered by Dean Barker.
Races in the ACWS have already been held in Portsmouth, England, Gothenberg, Sweden, Bermuda and Oman and will move to Chicago, Toulon, France and possibly Japan.
The boat designs will be scaled up to 50 feet for the America's Cup in Bermuda, which is set to begin in May 2017 and climax with the final two teams vying for the oldest trophy in sports, known as the "Auld Mug."
The America's Cup race has been held every few years since 1851, except for pauses during the world wars.
(Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Larry Fine)