San Francisco, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Defending champion Oracle Team USA finally won its first America’s Cup race, beating Emirates Team New Zealand by eight seconds in the fourth showdown Sunday at San Francisco Bay.
The Kiwis bagged Race 3 by 28 seconds to go up 3-0, but Oracle Team USA clinched the fourth race by finishing the 9.94-nautical mile course in 22 minutes and 42 seconds.
“A lesser team would have crumbled in the fourth race,” Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill said. “This team is very good under pressure and will run itself into the ground if that’s what it takes. It feels good to shift the momentum.”
Spithill blamed sloppy tacking maneuvers as one of the team’s problems in the best-of-14 race.
“We need to keep improving. That’s the name of the game,” Spithill said. “There’s no question these boats are physically the most demanding we’ve ever sailed. It’s 30 minutes nonstop. It’s relentless.”
Despite the win, the official score stands at 3-0 because Oracle Team USA was docked two races (or points) over a cheating scandal involving 45-foot catamarans used in the America’s Cup World Series last year.
With Oracle still remains in the hole by one race, Races 5 and 6 are scheduled for Tuesday, beginning at 1:15 p.m.
After racing virtually untouched in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series all summer, Emirates Team New Zealand suffered its first actual racing loss Sunday.
It also was the first time team manager Grant Dalton, who is 56 and the oldest sailor in the competition, didn’t crew.
“We certainly knew coming into this event it was going to be very, very close,” Barker said. “You don’t like losing races, but a lot of good things can come out of it that will make us better on Tuesday.”
Oracle positioned itself best at both starts and was first to round Mark 1 in both races. However, Oracle allowed New Zealand to overtake it on the upwind leg and could not recover in Race 3.
In Race 4, Oracle Team USA started aggressively and rounded the first mark six seconds ahead of New Zealand. The Kiwis kept close downwind, rounding the leeward mark only five seconds behind.