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“This is it! Work your arses off!” –Ben Ainsle

ORACLE TEAM USA won the 34th America’s Cup in a winner-take-all 19th race, defeating challenger Emirates Team New Zealand by 44 seconds in today’s clincher. Led by 35-year-old skipper Jimmy Spithill, ORACLE TEAM USA won by the score of 9-8.

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OTUSA Wins! © ACEA / PHOTO GILLES MARTIN-RAGET

This is the second America’s Cup win for ORACLE TEAM USA and Spithill, which won the 162-year-old trophy in Valencia, Spain, in February 2010. Then 30 years of age, Spithill became the youngest to ever skipper a Cup winning team.

In the past week ORACLE TEAM USA has steadily improved its boatspeed to the point where it could hydrofoil upwind at 30-32 knots, incredible performance never seen before in the America’s Cup.

“It was a fantastic race. We wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Spithill, the two-time Cup winner. “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.

“Thanks to San Francisco, this is one hell of a day,” Spithill said.

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Jimmy’s cup runneth over.

ORACLE TEAM USA’s victory marks one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of sport. The team won 11 races to score the 9 points required for victory due to a penalty imposed by the International Jury. Just last Wednesday, Sept. 18, ORACLE TEAM USA trailed the series 8-1. With the challenger on match point, the defender closed out the series with eight consecutive victories.

This was the third time in the history of the America’s Cup with a winner-take-all final race. Previously, the defender won in 1920 and the challenger won in 1983. Both times the winner rallied from a multi-race deficit, but never anything amounting to eight straight wins.

“This was a wonderful match of teams,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray, who’s been involved with the America’s Cup since 1983. “In the case of a boat coming from behind, 3-1 down as was the case with Australia II in 83, the shoe is on a different foot this time around. Then it was the challenger behind and this time it was the defender. But in the end we had great competition between two great teams, evenly matched, battling it out to the end.”

One million fans visited the official America’s Cup venues at Piers 27/29 and Marina Green since they opened on July 4, and hundreds of thousands more lined the shores of San Francisco Bay to catch a glimpse of the flying, foiling AC72.

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Oracle TeamUSA takes their victory lab around San Francisco Bay.

34th America’s Cup Standings (first to 9 points wins)

  • ORACLE TEAM USA – 9 (11 wins; ORACLE TEAM USA was penalized its first two victories by the International Jury)
  • Emirates Team New Zealand – 8

Race 19 Performance Data

  • Course: 5 Legs/10.07 nautical miles
  • Elapsed Time: OTUSA – 23:24, ETNZ – 24:08
  • Delta: OTUSA +:44
  • Total distance sailed: OTUSA – 11.9 NM, ETNZ – 12.2 NM
  • Average Speed: OTUSA – 30.55 knots (35 mph), ETNZ – 30.55 knots (35 mph)
  • Top Speed: OTUSA – 44.33 knots (51 mph), ETNZ – 45.72 knots (53 mph)
  • Windspeed: Average – 18.2 knots, Peak – 21.3 knots
  • Number of Tacks/Jibes: OTUSA – 9/7, ETNZ – 9/7

From AmericasCup.com

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San Francisco, CA 2012: ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL, in last place position at the start of the final match race, took the overall points to win the the America’s Cup World Series San Francisco Championship.
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ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL celebrates win in AC World Series 2. Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Jimmy Spithill and his crew of Dirk de Ridder, John Kostecki, Jono MacBeth and Joe Newton fought their way back through the fleet in the “Super Sunday” fleet race after starting dead last, and just barely beating stable-mates ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS.

Coming from a near disaster on Saturday when ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL capsized their AV45 Catamaran during the first fleet race of the day, the crew made a heroic comeback to race in the very next heat. The Team also won the August AC World Series San Francisco Championship by one point, previously the closest finish at an AC World Series event.

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ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL capsizes in the middle of the first fleet race in Day 4 of the AC World Series. Photo: Guilain GRENIER

“We’ve always said we need to be able to come from behind and overcome adversity,” said Spithill, who skippered the team to victory in the 2010 America’s Cup. “I thought I gave them that yesterday with the capsize, but it’s really a sign of a strong team. The shore crew, our coaches, it’s been a fantastic team effort.”

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AC45 catamarans race in San Francisco Bay with Alcatraz Island in the background. Photo: Guilain GRENIER/2012

Ainslie drew a penalty in the prestart for “trying to get into a gap that was too small,” he said, adding he didn’t think that’s where he lost. “The first leg upwind was where we lost it because we got stuck in a corner; we got squeezed out and lost a lot of ground to the fleet.”

Russell Coutts said the one-two showing by Spithill and Ainslie is a good sign for Oracle’s prospects of defending the America’s Cup next year. Ainslie will be helming the No. 2 boat for in-house competition to keep Spithill’s crew sharp.

“The writing’s on the wall,” Coutts said. “With another year of practice and trials, it’s going to be a very powerful combination.”

Back Story:

The ACWS was created to whet the appetite for the more prestigious America’s Cup event coming here next summer – 2013. As the current holder of the Cup, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison chose San Francisco Bay as the site and the two weeks of competition this summer became part of the build-up.

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Artemis and Oracle Teams cross the finish line in front of massive crowds along the SF Bay waterfront. Photo: Nancy Birnbaum/2012

Why the two separate racing sessions?

“It allowed the teams to come here and basically race and then train and race again to get used to the conditions,” Murray said. “And also give San Francisco a little education on what the boats are and who the people are.”

As promised, the weather was the better than anyone could have wished for with any fog burning off early from the warm sun. With the Golden Gate Bridge on one side, and the Bay Bridge on the other side with Alcatraz and Angel Island in between, the race course is spectacular indeed. As Oracle Racing Team Owner Larry Ellison said, “The San Francisco Bay is the most spectacular natural amphitheater for sailing!”

The U.S. Coast Guard estimated more than 150,000 spectators on shoreline along America’s Cup Village and more than 1,000 vessels watching on the Bay on just Sunday alone for the final match and Blue Angel Fleet Week air show. San Francisco City Tourism estimated that 1 million visitors were in town for “event-ageddon” to take part in the jam-packed merrymaking for various fairs, sports events and to watch the Fleet Week Airshow.

The Results:
AC World Series San Francisco Fleet Racing Championship (After 7 of 7 races)
1.
 ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (Jimmy Spithill) 8-1-6-5-DNF-2-1 – 79
2. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) 1-3-1-2-4-1-4 – 79 points
3. Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) 10-2-2-1-3-3-3 – 72
4. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) 2-8-5-6-1-4-7 – 57
5. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (Russell Coutts) 3-5-8-7-8-10-2 – 56
6. Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge) 4-4-4-4-9-8-5 – 52
7. Energy Team (Loick Peyron) 6-7-7-3-6-7-6 – 47
8. Team Korea (Peter Burling) 5-9-10-8-2-5-10 – 40
9. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) 9-6-3-10-10-6-9 – 36
10. China Team (Phil Robertson) 7-10-11-9-5-11-8 – 28
11. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Iker Martinez) 11-11-9-11-7-9-11 – 20
(Scoring, Races 1-6: 1st = 12 points, 2nd = 10, 3rd = 9, 4th = 8, 5th = 7, 6th = 6, 7th = 5, 8th = 4, 9th = 3, 10th = 2, 11th = 1; Race 7: 1st = 40 points, 2nd = 25, 3rd = 20, 4th = 16, 5th = 13, 6th = 11, 7th = 10, 8th = 9, 9th = 8, 10th = 7, 11th = 6)

AC World Series San Francisco Match Racing Championship
1.
 ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL, 2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 3. Artemis Racing – White, 4.Artemis Racing – Red, 5. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS, 6. Energy Team, 7. J.P. Morgan BAR, 8.Team Korea, 9. China Team, 10. Luna Rossa Piranha, 11. Luna Rossa Swordfish

Go to AC World Series San Francisco Results

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