USA gets 1st win in Amer­ica’s Cup

Los Angeles Times - - INSIDE BASEBALL - wire re­ports

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.

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