America's Cup: Oracle complete remarkable comeback

By Dana Johannsen

Oracle Team USA fans cheer following Oracle's win. Photo / AP
Oracle Team USA fans cheer following Oracle's win. Photo / AP

The America's Cup will stay with Oracle Team USA. Oracle landed the final knock-out blow on Team New Zealand this morning, taking out the winner-takes-all race for the America's Cup to complete their stunning comeback in a thrilling finish to a dramatic regatta.

Oracle's Cup defence looked all but over just a week ago, with Team NZ leading the first-to-nine series 8-1. But a remarkable turnaround saw the Oracle team string together seven straight wins to tie up the series 8-all and send the match in a deciding 19th race.

Having found an extra gear upwind in the last week and half, USA-17 was too good for Team NZ in today's finale - leaving the Kiwi team heartbreakingly anchored on match point.

As soon as the race finished the Oracle crew could be seen patting the side of their boat, thanking their super high-tech catamaran for its role in the team's incredible comeback.
Oracle owner technology tycoon Larry Ellison climbed on board shortly after the win joining in the celebrations - his first words to the crew: "congratulations, you've just won the America's Cup".

The win puts Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill in rare company have twice won the America's Cup, but the Australian immediately paid tribute to his team.

"It really is about the team, on your own you're nothing but when you've got a team like this around you they can make you look great," said an ecstatic Spithill.

"I'm just so proud of the guys, they faced the barrel of the gun at 8-1 and they didn't even flinch. It was just a fantastic team effort."

The scenes on the New Zealand boat were vastly different, the crew looking shell-shocked and bereft as they crossed the line 44-seconds after USA-17. All Dean Barker and his crew could do was offer one-another a half-hearted pat on the back as the realisation that their Cup dream was over sunk in.

Today's loss may not just be the end of their valiant three-year campaign - it could also be the end of the Team New Zealand syndicate. Team chief executive and fundraising power source, Grant Dalton, has already hinted that he will not do another America's Cup challenge if this one fails, though such decisions are always open to review. If he goes, there are doubts that multi-millionaire benefactor Matteo de Nora will continue either.

Government money becomes harder to prise out of the public coffers. This year's nail-biting Cup match has been tremendous theatre but it will make the private fundraising job that much harder.

It will be of little consolation to the Kiwi team at the moment, but there isn't a lot more they could have done in this morning's race to stave off the inevitable. Barker won the start and held a narrow lead at the bottom mark, but they simply could not match the pace of USA-17 upwind.

At the first cross Team NZ, on starboard tack, just managed to scrape in front of Oracle, but by the time the two teams converged again, the defenders had claimed the lead.

With every successive cross the Oracle boat seemed to have gained three or four boat lengths - extending their lead out to 26 seconds heading into the final downwind leg.

From there Oracle were well in control, and only needed to sail an error free run to keep the Cup.

- NZ Herald

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