Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Oracle Team USA wins America's Cup with amazing comeback

SAN FRANCISCO — The big black cat almost used up its last life at the start, burying its bow in a wave and falling behind a boatload of Kiwis.

Of course, it was only fitting in this America's Cup that Oracle Team USA would need to survive near-defeat again.

With one last spectacular push in a winner-take-all finale Wednesday, the United States managed to hang on to the Auld Mug in closing out the longest, fastest and, by far, wildest America's Cup ever with one of the greatest comebacks in sports.

Skipper Jimmy Spithill steered Oracle's space-age, 72-foot catamaran to its eighth-straight victory, speeding past Dean Barker and Team New Zealand in Race 19 on a San Francisco Bay course bordered by the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the Embarcadero.

This was the first time the America's Cup was raced inshore. The catamarans were the vision of software billionaire Larry Ellison and his sailing team chief executive officer, Russell Coutts, who is now a five-time America's Cup winner.

Powered by a 131-foot wing sail, the catamarans have hit 50 mph, faster than the speed limit on the Golden Gate Bridge.

All but defeated a week ago, Spithill, a 34-year-old Australian, and his international crew twice rallied from seven-point deficits to win 9-8. Owned by Ellison, Oracle Team USA was docked two points for illegally modifying boats in warm-up regattas and had to win 11 races to keep the trophy. Oracle won by 44 seconds.

"It really is about the team, man," Spithill said. "On your own, you're nothing, but when you've got a team like this around you, they can make you look great. They did all of that today and the whole series. I'm so proud of the boys. They didn't flinch."

How big was this win?

For sailing, it was the equivalent of the Boston Red Sox sweeping the final four games of the 2004 ALCS over the New York Yankees, the only comeback from a 3-0 deficit in major league history. It's also comparable to the Philadelphia Flyers overcoming a 0-3 deficit to beat the Boston Bruins in the 2010 NHL playoffs.

As stirring of a comeback as it was for Spithill and his crew, it was a staggering loss for Team New Zealand. Barker, 41, was looking for redemption after losing the America's Cup to Alinghi of Switzerland in 2003 and then steering the losing boat in 2007, also against Alinghi.

"For me, my job is to support the guys because they're pretty smashed," said Grant Dalton, who is the managing director of Team New Zealand and also is one of the grinders on the boat. "They're feeling it pretty bad. The country is really devastated."

Team New Zealand was funded in part by its government and its future is uncertain.

An online poll conducted by the New Zealand Herald newspaper while New Zealand still led Oracle in the finals series showed that 36 percent of respondents believed the government should make another major contribution to Team New Zealand, and a further 22 percent said the contribution should be increased.

But when the teams were locked together at 8-8 before Wednesday's race, 55 percent of respondents opposed further government funding and only 32 percent supported continued taxpayer assistance.

Barker was gracious in defeat.

"To Oracle, amazing. We thought a couple of weeks ago that it was sort of in our favor, and the way they improved and turned things around is just incredible. It was unbelievable," he said.

Team Oracle

The U.S. boat in the America's Cup is owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison. He spent about $500 million in the last 11 years pursuing the trophy. The Oracle had an international crew, led by Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill. The sailors included four Australians, two from New Zealand and one each from the United States, Britain, Italy, Holland and Antigua.

Oracle Team USA wins America's Cup with amazing comeback 09/25/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  2. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  4. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  5. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.