Skipper Jimmy Spithill and Oracle Team USA have won the America's Cup with one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
Spithill steered Oracle's space-age, 72-foot catamaran to its eighth straight victory, speeding past Dean Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand in the winner-take-all Race 19 on San Francisco Bay to keep the oldest trophy in international sports in the United States.
All but defeated a week ago, the 34-year-old Australian and his international crew twice rallied from seven-point deficits to win 9-8 Wednesday. Owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, Oracle Team USA was docked two points for illegally modifying boats in warmup regattas and had to win 11 races to keep the Auld Mug.
Oracle's showed its incredible speed when it reeled in the Kiwis while zigzagging toward the Golden Gate Bridge on the windward third leg.
As The Christian Science Monitor reported, "After his win at the last America’s Cup in 2010, Oracle Team USA's owner, tech magnate and adrenaline junkie Larry Ellison, threw down the gauntlet for the next race: Double the hull, quadruple the speed. That gambit by a high-flying American industrialist could catapult sailing into the top echelons of racing sports, but it has arguably already had deadly consequences, causing critics to pan America’s Cup 2013 as a “billionaire death match.” (It now takes an easy $100 million to pose an America’s Cup challenge.)"
Mr. Ellison “is obviously financially involved, but that’s not as important to him as the risk that he took in staging this spectacle on San Francisco Bay, in these high-tech catamarans, where nobody thought it was going to take hold, and now it’s taken hold in a bigger way then I think he had dreamed,” says Julian Guthrie, a San Francisco journalist who chronicled Ellison’s America’s Cup journey in “The Billionaire and the Mechanic.”
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