Oracle - the come back kings of the century - take the 34th America's Cup
The winner-take-all 34th America’s Cup was competed for today by two evenly matched teams and one faster boat as Oracle came from behind once again.
As if matching a sustained comeback that has lit up this event, today’s race started with a comeback on the course half way through the event.
Dean Barker had taken the advantage at the start, nailing his timing to get his nose ahead on the blisteringly fast opening leg. To windward Spithill was pushing hard, too hard perhaps as the black cat planted itself as it dropped off its foils. The brakes went on, the spray went up, the boat disappeared and the Kiwis moved ahead with Oracle left trailing.
Picking themselves up and rolling into a high risk gybe Oracle was the first to break across, but unlike yesterday, when Barker seemed happy to go his own way, this time the Kiwis matched the move to cover Oracle on this high speed run.
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And high speed it was as the boat speeds sat at 40 knots as spray streamed over the after fairings like an aircraft’s con trail.
Oracle made gains on the Kiwis and hauled back into close contention with the gain line reducing to 40m as the pair drag raced across the full width of the course on port.
Rolling into the gybe, Oracle started the move and managed to get right on the tail of the Kiwis as they hugged Barker’s bumper at 40 knots. Not even in the hotly contested races that had gone before had we seen this.
But the Kiwis kept their cool as the black cat breathed down their necks, determined to stay between their man and the mark. They even managed to pull out some distance.
The next gybe was another perfectly executed one on both parts but the tactics were still being led by Barker and tactician Ray Davies who had skillfully taken the game out to the left hand side to make it as difficult as possible for Oracle to split at the bottom gate. Rounding the left hand mark would require a gybe and a round up, a slower and more difficult move in order to split from the Kiwis who were clearly looking for the right hand gate mark.
But as Barker lined up for the right hand buoy, Oracle pulled off an incredible mark rounding, smooth, fast and devastatingly efficient.
The boats then went upwind taking opposite side o0f the course to start with before coming back at each other, just like yesterday. The early indications gave Oracle an advantage, the lead even? Would the Kiwis be able to cross when they came back on starboard or would they try to lee bow the American team, a move that didn’t work yesterday?
Having starboard advantage the Kiwis crossed, forcing Oracle to duck behind. But what would happen on the next cross when Oracle would have the advantage?
This was the first step towards Oracle’s America’s Cup win as Spithill crossed ahead of the Kiwis. The trouble was that the Kiwis hadn’t had to duck the American team, a hint that Oracle was as quick as we have started to get used to.
From there the afterburners went on as Oracle smoked their way up the beat, stretching tens of metres by the minute. Spithill’s team could smell victory.
“Work you’re arses off,” called Ben Ainslie from the back of the boat, an uncharacteristic tactical call for a professional crew, but an indication of how pumped the world’s best were.
By the top mark Oracle rounded 26 seconds ahead, at these speeds stretching 500m ahead of the Kiwis. Barring a disaster it was all over, the Cup was staying with the Golden Gate Yacht Club thanks to its representatives, Oracle Racing.
Even Spithill couldn’t resist a smile as he and his crew blasted their way downhill to the finish.
As they crossed the line the crowd of thousands erupted.
The extraordinary 34th America’s Cup had been won by the comeback kings of the century.
It will take a long time to stop talking about this one!