With the its back against the wall, Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand to win the America’s Cup on Wednesday.
Team USA was led by 34-year-old skipper Jimmy Spithill, who won his second America’s Cup — he also won the trophy with the team in February 2010.
“It was a fantastic race. We wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Spithill. “We came from behind, the guys showed so much heart. On your own you’re nothing, but a team like this can make you look great… We were facing the barrel of a gun at 8-1 and the guys didn’t even flinch.”
Team USA had trailed 8-1, but won seven straight to enter the winner-take-all Race 19. The victory completed one of the biggest comebacks in sports history.
All but defeated a week ago, the 34-year-old Australian and his international crew twice rallied from seven-point deficits to win 9-8. Owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, Oracle Team USA was docked two points for illegally modifying boats in warmup regattas and had to win 11 races to keep the Auld Mug.
The race did not start well for Spithill and Team USA, as the Kiwis took advantage of their port position.
But after three lead changes in the third upwind leg – once the Americans’ weakness – Oracle sailed away with a 44-second victory.
At the finish line, the team erupted into hugs and high-fives and were then joined by [Ellison].
For those who aren’t familiar with sailing, the Associated Press puts the win into a mainstream sports perspective.
In sailing terms, it was the equivalent of the Boston Red Sox sweeping the final four games of the 2004 ALCS over the New York Yankees, the only 3-0 comeback in major league history. It’s also comparable to the Philadelphia Flyers overcoming a 0-3 deficit to beat the Boston Bruins in the 2010 NHL playoffs.