Oracle Team USA Caps Epic Comeback with America’s Cup Victory over Emirates Team New Zealand
Oracle Team USA rebounded from a seven point deficit to win the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco, stunning Emirates Team New Zealand in the 19th and deciding race on Wednesday.
Oracle Team USA’s historic victory is being widely hailed as one of the greatest come-from-behind victories in sports history. At one point during the 2013 America’s Cup, team Oracle found itself deep in an 8-1 hole, with most observers believing 34-year-old Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill and his crew would be headed home last week within the first few days of competition.
Instead, Oracle Team USA surged, winning 11 races to retain possession of the Auld Mug. Oracle’s task was even more daunting as it was docked two points prior to competition for illegally modifying boats during the warmup regattas.
With thousands of sailing fans and casual spectators watching along the piers and shores of the San Francisco bay on a balmy Indian Summer afternoon, Oracle Team USA literally ran into trouble early during Wednesday’s race when its 72-foot (22m) catamaran slammed into a wave shortly after the start of the race. Undaunted, Spithill’s crew closed the gap with Emirates Team New Zealand, catching up by the time the boats reached the iconic Golden Gate Bridge on the race’s third leg.
In the latter stages of the race, it was no contest, with Team Oracle USA’s boat clearly the faster of the two. Oracle won the race by 44 seconds. Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison, who according to the Associated Press has invested half a billion dollars in winning and defending the silver trophy, hopped onboard and was doused in a celebratory champagne shower.
Spithill credited his team’s stunning victory to his brilliant crew.
“On your own you’re nothing but when you’ve got a team like this around you, they make you great,” he tweeted following the win.
Team Oracle USA’s victory was absolutely crushing for New Zealand, a nation in which sailing ranks among the most popular sports and in which Kiwis, who number only 4.4 million, are global heavyweights. With back-to-back victories in 1995 and 2000, Emirates Team New Zealand became the first non-US team to win and then defend the America’s Cup.
Kiwi skipper Dean Barker was hoping to return his nation to the top of the world sailing order following disappointing losses to Alinghi of Switzerland in 2003 and 2007. A dejected Barker told 3 News New Zealand that the loss was difficult to take.
“We saw today just how dominant [Oracle] have become upwind and it’s very difficult to accept, a tough pill to swallow,” he said, adding that he was “incredibly proud” of his teammates.
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