Oracle Team USA successfully defends 34th America's Cup
Emirates Team New Zealand was today unable to halt the inexorable march of Oracle Team USA. Claiming its eighth consecutive victory, the US team continued its winning streak, successfully defending the 34th America's Cup in the final 'death or bust 19th' race, that took the scoreline to 9-8, finally in their favour.
This is the second America’s Cup win for Oracle and Spithill, who won the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia in February 2010. At the time Spithill, then 30 years old, became the youngest to ever skipper a Cup-winning team.
With the wind speed at around 18 knots from te south west (gusting to 21), in today's final race Emirates Team New Zealand had the (increasingly small) advantage of the port entry. The Kiwis gybed round, as Oracle tacked, setting themselves up in the windward position. The ever aggressive Spithill went in for the hook but on this occasion Barker had enough runway to wriggle away and instead Oracle returned to their berth to weather. The Oracle crew's speed build was better off the line but not good enough and the Kiwis got the overlap and the inside berth at the reaching mark to lead into the run.
Despite an impressive nose dive while rounding the mark, Oracle Team USA remained attached to the Kiwi's transom down the run, with Barker and his crew doing a good job to cover them. Unfortunately by the time the Kiwis had committed to rounding the starboard hand gate mark, Oracle Team split and rounded the port mark. At the first cross Oracle coming in on port took the Kiwi's transom. On the next cross on port they were two to three boat lengths ahead. And from there it was all over. Oracle extended and extended showing their prodigious upwind pace.
From being 3 seconds behind at the leeward gate, Oracle Team USA rounded 26 seconds ahead at the top mark, had grown this to 38 seconds at the final mark and to 44 seconds by the finish.
While Emirates Team New Zealand came in for some flack yesterday over some flaws in their tactics and boat handling, they threw the kitchen sink at Oracle Team USA today: they won the start, were first to the reaching mark and leeward gate, but no amount of match racing tactics was going to allow them to overcome the defender's upwind pace. As ever, the America's Cup was won by the team with the faster boat, which over the vital latter half of this regatta was Oracle Team USA.
In the past week the defender has steadily improved its boat speed, to the point where it could hydrofoil upwind at an unprecidented 30-32 knots.
“It was a fantastic race,” said Spithill. “We came from behind, the guys showed so much heart. On your own you’re nothing, but a team like this can make you look great… We were facing the barrel of a gun at 8-1 and the guys didn’t even flinch. Thanks to San Francisco, this is one hell of a day."
Racing onboard alongside Spithill were tactician Ben Ainslie, grinder Shannon Falcone, off side trimmer Rome Kirby, wing trimmer Kyle Langford, grinder Jonathan Macbeth, jib trimmer Joe Newton, grinder Gilberto Nobili, strategist Tom Slingsby, grinder Joe Spooner and grinder Simeon Tienpont. John Kostecki was tactician for the first five races of the regatta.
Spithill continued: “I’d like to congratulate Emirates Team New Zealand. They are a tough team, a champion team, and we had a lot of great battles. It’s always tough when it gets to a winner-take-all scenario because it’s been such a great battle that it’s almost a crime that there has to be a winner and a loser.
“There was an energy and a ‘never give up’ attitude throughout the team. Everyone just wanted it and would fight all the way to the end, and that is what produced the boat speed.
“We honestly didn’t think too much about the end result today – all we thought about was keep fighting back, we can do this and don’t give up. It’s really been a privilege to be part of this group.”
Oracle Team USA's victory marks one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of sport. The team won 11 races to score the 9 points required for victory following the penalty imposed by the International Jury. But only a week ago they trailed the Kiwis 1-8. With the challenger on match point, the defender closed out the series with an impossible sounding eight consecutive victories.
This was the third time in the history of the America’s Cup with a winner-take-all final race. Previously, the defender won in 1920 and the challenger won in 1983. Both times the winner rallied from a multi-race deficit, but never anything amounting to eight straight wins.
“This was a wonderful match of teams,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray, who’s been involved with the America’s Cup since 1983. “In the case of a boat coming from behind, 3-1 down as was the case with Australia II in 1983, the shoe is on a different foot this time around. Then it was the challenger behind and this time it was the defender. But in the end we had great competition between two great teams, evenly matched, battling it out to the end.”
Larry Ellison, Oracle Team USA Team Principal said: “This was the most magnificent spectacle on the water. These 40+ knot catamarans are amazing. By going to catamarans we tried to make sailing a bit more extreme, friendlier for the viewing audience. A lot of people weren’t interested in sailing, and now they are. This regatta has changed sailing forever. More people watched the first race of this America’s Cup than all of the America’s Cups in history, so I think it’s a success."
One million fans visited the official America’s Cup venues at Piers 27/29 and Marina Green since they opened on July 4, and hundreds of thousands more lined the shores of San Francisco Bay to catch a glimpse of the flying, foiling AC72.
34th America’s Cup Standings: Oracle Team USA – 9 (11 wins; the team was penalised its first two victories by the International Jury)
Emirates Team New Zealand – 8
Race 19 Performance Data
Course: 5 Legs/10.07 nautical miles
Elapsed Time: OTUSA – 23:24, ETNZ – 24:08
Delta: OTUSA +:44
Total distance sailed: OTUSA – 11.9 NM, ETNZ – 12.2 NM
Average Speed: OTUSA – 30.55 knots, ETNZ – 30.55 knots
Top Speed: OTUSA – 44.33 knots, ETNZ – 45.72 knots
Windspeed: Average – 18.2 knots, Peak – 21.3 knots
Number of Tacks/Jibes: OTUSA – 9/7, ETNZ – 9/7
34th America’s Cup Race by Race
Race 1 (Sep. 7): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :36
Race 2 (Sep. 7): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :52
Race 3 (Sep. 8): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :28
Race 4 (Sep. 8): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :08*
Race 5 (Sep. 10): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by 1:05
Race 6 (Sep. 12): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :46
Race 7 (Sep. 12): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by 1:06
Race 8 (Sep. 14): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :52*
Race 9 (Sep. 15): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :47
Race 10 (Sep. 15): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :16
Race 11 (Sep. 18): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :15
Race 12 (Sep. 19): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :31
Race 13 (Sep. 20): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by 1:24
Race 14 (Sep. 22): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :23
Race 15 (Sep. 22): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :37
Race 16 (Sep. 23): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :33
Race 17 (Sep. 24): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :27
Race 18 (Sep. 24): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :54
Race 19 (Sep. 25): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :44
From Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa/www.borlenghi.com