Completing what many thought an improbable comeback, ORACLE TEAM USA won Race 19 to successfully defend the 34th America’s Cup on Wednesday in San Francisco. Skipper and helmsman Jimmy Spithill guided the team’s AC72 past Emirates Team New Zealand to win by 39 seconds and retain the America’s Cup trophy.
“This was the most magnificent spectacle on the water,” said Larry Ellison, ORACLE TEAM USA founder. “These 40-plus 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,” Ellison said.
The winner-take-all final race started under clear skies and 18 knot winds. Both teams were off the line clean, but ORACLE TEAM USA dug its bows in around the first mark to push them 7 seconds behind Team New Zealand. After gaining ground on the second leg, the teams split the second gate with ORACLE TEAM USA improving to 3 seconds back.
Following a pair of lead changes on Leg 3 of the race, ORACLE TEAM USA took control and maintained the front spot for good. The team continued to extend on leg four and around the final gate to win by 39 seconds.
The Race 19 victory was ORACLE TEAM USA’s eighth consecutive win and 11th overall. One week prior, the score was 8-1 in favor of Team New Zealand. Spithill and crew finished with a final score of 11-8, securing the extra two points required for victory due to a penalty imposed by the International Jury.
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