San Francisco — Oracle Team USA completed the greatest comeback in America’s Cup history Wednesday, coming from behind in the winner-take-all final race to overtake Emirates Team New Zealand and keep the oldest trophy in international sports in the United States.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill’s American team looked all but defeated a week ago after falling behind 8-1, but won eight straight races in San Francisco Bay to win the Cup 9-8.
Oracle actually won 11 races, but was hit with a two-race penalty for cheating in a warm-up race.
The final race didn’t start well for Oracle as the Kiwis seized an early seven-second lead at Mark 1 when Oracle plunged its two bows into the water while making the turn.
But the race saw three lead changes in the third upwind leg, and Oracle eventually sailed away with a 44-second victory to keep the Auld Mug in the USA.
Team USA erupted into hugs and high-fives at the finish line, and were soon joined by billionaire Oracle owner Larry Ellison for a champagne shower aboard the yacht.
“Oh man, oh man, What a race!” said Australia’s Spithill, who won his second America’s Cup. “It was a fantastic race. We wouldn’t have had it any other way. To come from behind, these guys just showed so much heart.”
Despite being stranded on match point for a week, Team New Zealand looked to be in good shape at the beginning of the final race, and Team USA had to sail their best to win the longest, fastest, and wildest America’s Cup on a course between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island.
As stirring as the comeback win was for Team USA, it must have been a staggering loss for New Zealand, whose team was funded in part by its government.
It was the first time for an inshore America’s Cup, and San Francisco Bay provided a breathtaking racecourse.
The riveting closing stages of this year’s Cup was watched in 203 countries and territories.
In its 162-year history, the America’s Cup has rarely seen drama reach the heights it did this week along picturesque San Francisco Bay. Image/news.yahoo.com