(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

The America’s Cup competition between the U.S. and New Zealand suddenly is a real battle.

Oracle Team USA has made a surprising comeback from an 8-1 defecit, closing the gap with Emirates Team New Zealand, which remains on match point, to 8-6. Today’s first race is at 1:15 p.m. PDT on San Francisco Bay and a second, if necessary, would follow at 2:15 p.m. A third race, If necessary, would be Wednesday.

“Every time we faced adversity, a lesser team would have dropped the ball or split apart,” Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said (via sfgate.com). “But this team pulled itself together.”

A comeback would rival the 1983 finish, when Australia overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat Dennis Conner and Liberty off the coast of Newport, R.I. Admittedly, though, New Zealand is in the driver’s seat.

“Well, it was always going to be a battle,” Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker told the New York Times. “We knew that, and without question they’ve improved since the first week, and we feel like we’ve improved also. But the game is very, very close, and it’s going to be a case of having to battle for every point.”

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