Oracle beats New Zealand to keep America's Cup

Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill holds up the Auld Mug as they celebrate in the podium after winning the America's Cup sailing event over Emirates Team New Zealand on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
September 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Oracle Team USA pulled off the biggest comeback in the history of the America's Cup, arguably the greatest comebacks in all of sports as they won the trophy on the San Francisco Bay.

Team USA completed a phenomenal come-from-behind win in Race 19 Wednesday afternoon after being seven points behind last week.

Race promoters wanted an exciting America's Cup. Through most of it, through three months of it, they really weren't getting much of it, especially since the Americans were down by so much. Then came the comeback. It all culminated with Wednesday's race.

The race played out in front of a crowd the size that promoters promised, and finally delivered on this, the last day.

"Well, I think until things started to get interesting a few weeks ago, they weren't here," America's Cup fan Eileen Chauvet said.

They were interesting Wednesday. It was a close race from the start and near disaster for Oracle when a large wave knocked the boat from its foils and into the water.

The huge dip, however, didn't hurt them as much as anticipated.

As the boats drag raced downwind on the San Francisco Bay they remained close, extremely close, sometimes a boat length at 41 knots.

Experts say Oracle took over at the turn.

As they headed upwind the two teams split the course; Oracle going for a starboard tack along the shore, and Emirates Team New Zealand heading farther out to Alcatraz. With every cross, Oracle extended its lead.

At turn three, a near disaster for Oracle once again. The boat nearly capsized. By the time New Zealand reached the same mark, Oracle had a 500 meter lead. The victory was all downwind from there.

In the past week, San Francisco has had a front row seat to maybe one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history. Oracle has beaten sudden death eight straight times. As a result, the cup remains here.

So after three months and untold millions, it came to this. And from victory, more questions. Traditionally the victor sets the rules, decides the boats, and the venue. Everyone wanted a race on the bay and they got it. Now the question is if this was the last race on the San Francisco Bay, or only the first. Those are questions still to be answered.

As you can imagine, the neck-and-neck final race drew huge crowds. They were by far the biggest crowds of the entire America's Cup.

Many fans left the America's Cup Pavilion talking about how they just witnessed one of the greatest sports comebacks in history.

You had the regular fans out there, but then you also had the hordes of people who ditched the office in the Financial District and wandered to the waterfront.

The America's Cup Pavilion appeared to be split in half with Team Oracle USA fans watching the race on one giant video screen and Emirates Team New Zealand fans watching the other. You could even hear the dueling cheers coming from both ends of the pavilion.

"We feel really lucky cause we were actually here for the Oracle conference, and we skipped sessions," said Virginia resident Peggy Ely. "So now I have to tell my boss I skipped sessions to come see this, we were blessed."

"It's the greatest comeback in sports," Torrance resident Michael Williams said. "It's fantastic achievement by Larry Ellison and the whole crew. They did a great job. They did something nobody thought was possible."

The Oracle Team USA fans were watching on that big screen, but they knew it was over before the race actually ended. They all got up and started moving toward the finish line.


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