Oracle Team USA once again held off America’s Cup elimination, defeating Emirates Team New Zealand by 33 seconds on San Francisco Bay to extend the yachting series into today.
The victory still left the defending champions, backed by Oracle Corp. (ORCL:US) Chief Executive Larry Ellison, trailing 8-6 in the first-to-nine-wins series. The U.S. team has won five straight races since New Zealand reached match point last week at 8-1.
The biggest winning comeback in the 162-year-old regatta occurred in 1983, when Alan Bond’s Australia II rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to win the best-of-seven series, beating Dennis Conner’s Liberty and ending the New York Yacht Club’s 132-year hold on the Cup and the longest winning streak in sports.
“We’ve really got a huge wave of momentum now,” Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said in a television interview after yesterday’s race. “The guys have been working very, very hard. Again last night, the shore team was there until the early hours of the morning and the boat’s just going fantastic.”
New Zealand started the race in good position before Oracle accelerated to round the initial turn five seconds ahead. Oracle then increased its lead to about 13 seconds on the downwind leg.
“We were reasonably happy with where we were on the line,” New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said. “They just managed to get a bit of momentum right at the start.”
The boats then raced back upwind toward the Golden Gate Bridge, with Oracle crossing back and forth in front, increasing the lead to about 19 seconds before the U.S. again held off the Kiwis on the downwind legs to the finish.
“We’re very upbeat,” Barker said. “We know we can win. The Oracle boat sailed a pretty flawless race that time and there were no opportunities to get back into it. So we did a better job with the downwind, sailing close, but not enough today.”
The Oracle team trails despite having won eight races in the series because officials docked the team two points for rules violations during preliminary competition.
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