News / USA

In Epic Comeback, Oracle Wins America's Cup

Oracle Team USA crosses the finish line during the 18th race of the America's Cup sailing event against Emirates Team New Zealand, Sept. 24, 2013, in San Francisco.
Oracle Team USA crosses the finish line during the 18th race of the America's Cup sailing event against Emirates Team New Zealand, Sept. 24, 2013, in San Francisco.
Reuters
Oracle Team USA prevailed in a dramatic winner-take-all showdown with Emirates Team New Zealand on Wednesday to win the 34th America's Cup, completing a stirring comeback that helped make the once-troubled event among the most exciting in sailing history.
 
For Oracle and its hard-charging skipper, Australian Jimmy Spithill, the win was an extraordinary sporting triumph, one that saw the team climb back from a seemingly insurmountable 8-1 deficit in the best-of-17 series to keep the trophy it won three years ago.
 
The thrilling final races were also a ringing vindication of Oracle owner Larry Ellison's controversial decision to transform a once-staid yachting event into a TV-friendly, extreme-sports spectacle featuring huge high-speed catamarans that might draw a new generation of enthusiasts to sailing.
 
Emirates Team New Zealand, a plucky challenger that lacked a billionaire sponsor but nonetheless sailed to the brink of Cup victory, must now endure the ignominy of having let the prize slip from its grasp after a grueling two-year campaign of boat development and training that unfolded almost exactly as planned until the final days.
 
Oracle dominated the last race, showcasing the dramatic  improvement in boat speed on the upwind leg of the race that began to emerge a week ago. Oracle seemed to find an extra gear after losing most of the early races, and even overcame a pre-match penalty that required it win 11 races on the water.
 
“On your own you're nothing, but with a team like this around you, they can make you look great,” Spithill said after the race.
 
Just a week ago, New Zealand fans had all but begun celebrating what seemed like an inevitable sporting and economic windfall for the longtime international sailing power, which supported the team with about $30 million in government funds in the hopes of bringing the trophy - and attendant tourism and publicity - back home.
 
But on Wednesday it was Ellison who was celebrating, joining the crew on the boat for a champagne shower in the moments after the finish.
 
Gripping spectacle
 
Fans who flocked to the San Francisco bayfront by the tens of thousands for the final races were treated to a little bit of everything: tense on-the-water duels, a near-capsize, winds that were alternately too light and too strong, and even a whale that threatened to disrupt racing.
 
Until just a few weeks ago, the summer-long series of America's Cup events looked like a monumental bust. A British Olympic champion sailing for the Swedish team was killed in a training accident in May, calling the safety of the boats into question and forcing contentious rule changes.
 
New Zealand completely dominated the Louis Vuitton challenger series, which featured only three competitors and saw some “races” with only one boat charging around the course. A cheating scandal erupted, with Oracle ultimately being docked two races and losing a key crew member as punishment for illegal boat modifications in a preliminary series.
 
In San Francisco, many locals bristled at city support for what has often been derided as a rich man's yacht race.
 
Controversies aside, Oracle seemed to have a competitive  edge early on, with the home-team advantage and enough money to hire top sailors and build two equally matched boats to train against one another. Its team was distinctly international, with New Zealander Russel Coutts, who led the Kiwis to Cup victory in 1995 and 2000, serving as CEO and Spithill as the skipper.
 
Only one American was among the Oracle crew at the finish.
 
When only three challengers proved willing to take on the cost and complexity of the 72-foot carbon fiber yachts, Oracle's chances looked even better - though it faced criticism that the dearth of competitors had made hosting the event a bad financial deal for San Francisco.
 
 
But the New Zealenders, led by a 56-year-old managing director, Grant Dalton, who doubled as a workhorse on-board “grinder” during races, proved ingenious in developing their boat, particularly in pioneering the use of hydrofoils that lift both hulls almost entirely of the water to reduce drag.
 
Skipper Dean Barker steered nearly flawless races through most of the competition as New Zealand first crushed the Italian team, Luna Rossa, in the challenger series, and then dominated Oracle in the early races of the Cup finals.
 
But now the America's Cup, with its rich history of dueling tycoons, gamesmanship and cutting-edge boat technology, appears firmly headed in Ellison's innovative direction. Not since Australia ended the United States' 132-year-long grip on the oldest trophy in sports in 1983 has the competition taken such a sharp turn.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs