Oracle Team USA extended sailing’s America’s Cup into a 13th day of competition by beating Emirates Team New Zealand for a fourth straight time.
Oracle won both of yesterday’s races on San Francisco Bay, leaving the defending champion behind 8-5 in the first-to-9 points series, with two more races set for today.
Oracle, which trailed 8-1 before its winning streak, had started the America’s Cup two races down because of a penalty for violating modification rules on its smaller yachts. In addition, the team’s primary wing trimmer and two shore crew were banned from the regatta.
“This is a team that has been through a lot in this campaign,” USA skipper Jimmy Spithill said on the event’s website. “We’ve faced all sorts of adversity. But the team didn’t wave the white flag. Now the boat is so much quicker that we believe we can win this. And we’ve got a wave of momentum behind us that’s getting bigger every day.”
New Zealand needs one more win to clinch the latest edition of the 162-year-old sailing competition. The USA team, bankrolled by Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Larry Ellison, has to win the next four races to retain the Auld Mug, the most prestigious trophy in sailing.
Oracle never trailed in either race yesterday. It won the first by 23 seconds and crossed the finish line 37 seconds ahead of New Zealand in the second.
The U.S. extended its six-second lead at the first turn in the opener to 24 seconds after the second of five legs. The Kiwis closed to within 20 meters (65 feet) on the third leg before the American boat moved 15 seconds ahead and opened a 350-meter advantage at the next-to-last mark.
The American boat was even more dominant in the second race, turning a three-second lead at mark one into a one-minute advantage through two legs.
New Zealand almost halved the deficit to 32 seconds with two legs remaining before Oracle extended its lead by five seconds after mark four and maintained the gap until the finish.
“We’re fast enough to win this,” Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said. “With that we have to sail well.”