USA caps miraculous comeback to keep America's Cup

  • Members of Oracle Team USA celebrate after overcaming an unprecedented 8-1 deficit to defeat Emirates Team New Zealand on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Still, the indefatigable New Zealand team appeared to have a shot at winning Wednesday's race with a 65-meter lead going into the second gate. But that advantage disappeared after three lead changes on the upwind leg, which put Oracle in the lead to stay.

When it was over, Australian-born skipper Jimmy Spithill brought the Oracle boat in close for a victory lap as water cannons in the background trumpeted the victory. Owner Larry Ellison jumped aboard to exclaim, "Hey guys, you just won the America's Cup!"

New Zealand skipper Dean Barker was heartbroken, saying he was "gutted" to not get the last one and "take this Cup back to New Zealand."

2013 America's Cup


Few envisioned such drama.

Ellison's decision to stage the 34th running of the Cup in San Francisco Bay using ridiculously fast and expensive boats was looking like a bust. The event was marred by allegations of cheating, resulting in a two-race penalty for the Oracle team, and by the death of a sailor. The event also isn't likely to be the economic boon San Francisco city leaders were hoping for.

Much of that was an afterthought Wednesday as thousands gathered on the San Francisco waterfront, surrounding hills and even the balconies of a cruise ship that was docked in port to witness history.

"It's an opportunity of a lifetime. We had to take advantage of it," said Mark Silva, a Windsor general contractor who attended the event with his wife and another couple.

So many people swarmed America's Cup Park that fire officials at one point shut down access for fear of overloading the pier, according to a San Francisco woman who was turned away. She was told there were in excess of 45,000 people on the piers.

Just a month ago, America's Cup Park was virtually abandoned. "There was nobody here," said Michelle Carrington, a Greenbrae resident whose parents live at Oakmont.

Carrington said she never gave up on the event or on the Americans winning it, even when they fell behind 8 to 1. "I'm not a fair weather fan," she said.

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