SAN FRANCISCO — After a week of unprecedented penalties and three straight losses, defending America's Cup champion Oracle Team USA finally had something to smile about Sunday on San Francisco Bay.
Oracle's 72-foot catamaran flew out of the fog around the fourth mark and stayed ahead of challenger Emirates Team Zealand to win Race 4 by 8 seconds.
"It was a real sign of strength from the guys to be able bounce back from a situation like that, having lost three in a row," skipper Jimmy Spithill said.
It was the first win of the regatta for Oracle, which was docked two points by an international jury for illegally modifying 45-foot catamarans in warmup regattas. That meant the Americans started at minus-2 and need to win 10 more races to keep the Auld Mug.
"There have been a lot of people who have probably bagged it and said, 'Ah, are we going to see a decent race?' " Spithill said. "Well, man, it's delivering."
Team New Zealand won by 28 seconds earlier in the day and needs to win six more races. Races 5 and 6 are set for Tuesday.
"We certainly knew coming into this event that it was going to be very, very close," skipper Dean Barker said. "We've got to get in good position at Mark 1, and from there you've got more control over your own destiny."