USA gets 1st win in America’s Cup
Skipper Jimmy Spithill has his swagger back, meaning it’s game on in the America’s Cup on Bermuda’s Great Sound.
Spithill skippered two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA to its first victory of the regatta, taking a thriller in Race 6 to earn a split Saturday and slow the momentum of Emirates Team New Zealand.
It’s no matter to Spithill that Oracle merely cut Team New Zealand’s lead in the first-to-seven regatta to 4-1. (New Zealand has won five races but began with a negative point because Oracle won the qualifiers.)
Until the sixth race, the powerhouse American squad, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison and crewed mostly by Australians, had been humbled by the underfunded but crafty Kiwis and their fast 50-foot, foiling catamaran helmed by 26-yearold America’s Cup rookie Peter Burling.
But Spithill has been here before. In 2013, Oracle trailed Team New Zealand 8-1 on San Francisco Bay before winning eight straight races to complete one of the greatest comebacks in sports.
“Now we’ve got confidence,” the 37year-old Spithill said. “Everyone on the team has just been going full noise the whole week. We’ve seen these guys taking days off. That’s good. I love seeing that.”
Oracle’s boat clearly was faster than the opening-weekend wipeout, when the Kiwis won four straight races by margins from 30 to 88 seconds.
But Oracle is still making mistakes, which Spithill acknowledged. It was penalized twice and had a costly maneuver in the first race, allowing the Kiwis to speed off to a victory of 2:04, the biggest in the match.
Oracle came back and won Race 6 by 11 seconds, the closest margin so far.
Races 7 and 8 are scheduled for Sunday.