Friday, September 27, 2013

Oracle Team USA Rallies for Historic America's Cup Win

At LAT, "Team USA rides a comeback wave to America's Cup victory":

SAN FRANCISCO — The end came with a burst of speed and a charge across San Francisco Bay.

As the sleek, massive American catamaran sprinted upwind, tactician Ben Ainslie called to his crew mates.

"This is it," he hollered. "This is it."

Defending champion Oracle Team USA easily beat challenger Emirates Team New Zealand on a bright Wednesday afternoon to complete one of the greatest comebacks in sports history and win the 34th America's Cup.

Down eight races to one and facing elimination for the better part of a week, Oracle managed a string of victories to reach a winner-take-all finale and prevail, 9-8, in the longest, closest series in 162 years of Cup history.

"We faced the barrel of the gun at 8-1," Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said of his 11-man crew. "What did these guys do? They didn't even flinch."

For Emirates, the final day was a disheartening end to nearly three weeks of racing that saw wild momentum swings and the rival boats crisscrossing and bumping at up to 50 mph as if they were stock cars.

"The Oracle boys just found another couple of gears through the regatta," Emirates tactician Ray Davies said. "Hats off to them."

Only twice before in the Cup's history had the competition come down to a deciding race. British sailing historian Bob Fisher could not recall such nip-and-tuck battles throughout a series.

"There were lead changes," he said. "We haven't seen lead changes at the America's Cup for years and years."

Emirates took an early lead when Oracle wobbled at the first mark, its twin bows plunging into the water, sending up plumes of spray. "Thought we'd keep it exciting for you guys," Spithill later quipped.

The American boat soon made up the difference, showing impressive acceleration on the upwind stretch that had once proved so frustrating.

The race was decided on that third leg, Oracle opening a lead it would never relinquish, crossing the finish line 44 seconds ahead.
More video, "America's Cup 2013: New Zealand defeat is 'very hard to swallow'."