SAN FRANCISCO — Emirates Team New Zealand has skimmed above the waves of San Francisco Bay to beat defending champion Oracle Team USA in the first two races of the 34th America's Cup.

With Dean Barker at the wheel of their 72-foot catamaran, the Kiwis lost and then regained the lead on the windward third leg of the opening race before sailing away from Oracle to win the opening race by 36 seconds.

Team New Zealand, showing better speed and crew work, led the whole way in the second race to win by 52 seconds on a hot, gorgeous day on San Francisco Bay.

The Kiwis need seven more wins to claim the oldest trophy in international sports.

Oracle Team USA, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, must win 11 races to retain the Cup. It was docked two points in the biggest cheating scandal in the 162-year history of the America's Cup.