Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

American boat wins fifth straight, keeps its trophy defense alive

SAN FRANCISCO — This America's Cup would be tied at 8 if defending champion Oracle Team USA hadn't been hit with the harshest penalties in the regatta's 162-year history.

No worries, says Australian-born skipper, Jimmy Spithill. He's a boxer as well as a sailor, and his spark and motivation has helped spur Oracle's remarkable comeback from what seemed like certain defeat a week ago.

Spithill accelerated his 72-foot catamaran off the starting line Monday and pulled clear of Emirates Team New Zealand to claim a fifth straight victory in the America's Cup by 33 seconds on San Francisco Bay.

The teams are tied on the water but the Kiwis lead 8-6 because Oracle was docked two points for illegal modifications.

Rebounding from the penalties is "not frustrating; it's actually motivating, to be honest," Spithill said Monday. "The thing I've found is when it's very difficult and very challenging, that's when it's the most rewarding."

Because light wind delayed Race 16 half an hour, Race 17 was postponed to today. If necessary, Race 18 will follow.

The Kiwis have been one win away from clinching since Wednesday.

"We still wouldn't trade positions," Team New Zealand Kiwi skipper Dean Barker said. "…It is definitely a battle."

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