Oracle USA and skipper Jim Spithill not only did the “impossible” in successfully defending the America’s Cup, but in the end they almost made it look easy —a feat that is all the more incredible given how far the team came in so little time.
It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest weekend of racing, but there was plenty of drama and more than a few surprises as Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy’s Luna Rossa both scored wins in the opening rounds of the Louis Vuitton Finals.
Although the 34th America’s Cup may have still fallen short in some ways, there’s no denying that Larry Ellison, Russell Coutts and company have finally gotten what they wanted—some of the most exciting racing the historic sailing series has ever seen.
Not only did ETNZ once again lead from wire to wire, the team managed to cross the finish line more than 2 minutes ahead of the Italians, despite losing their jib just before the race’s midpoint after a halyard shackle failed.
Meanwhile, over in Falmouth, England, no less than 11 wing-sailed catamarans are taking to the air in the International C class Catamaran Championship regatta—or “Little America’s Cup,” as it’s more commonly known.
On the boat’s maiden sail, Artemis Racing got hull #2, “Big Blue,” up on its foils in winds as strong as 15 knots—a dramatic statement from the team that has been in crisis mode ever since the May 9 capsize of its first boat took the life of strategist Andrew “Bart” Simpson.
This past Sunday, Emirates Team New Zealand won its ninth consecutive race of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, cementing its status as the top team in the challengers’ series.
Looking back on how Oracle Team USA staged one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history, it’s hard to be it all happened in only a little over a week. As late as a 11 days into the 18-day regatta, an Emirates Team New Zealand victory was pretty much a forgone conclusion, as they led series by an apparently insurmountable score of 8-1.
For months now, it feels like Cup fans have been waiting for some kind of a sign as to whether the 34th America’s Cup will be worth the effort. Unfortunately, despite some positives, the event has been afflicted with a serious case of “one step forward, two steps back.”