Oracle Team Usa Crawls Back To Even America’s Cup Finale
Tom Watson Defends USA Ryder Cup Captaincy
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team has won seven consecutive races since falling behind 8-1 last week in the first-to-nine series. The regattas biggest comeback to victory so far came in 1983, when Alan Bonds Australia II rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to beat Dennis Conners Liberty in a best-of-seven series. That win ended the New York Yacht Clubs 132-year hold on the trophy, the longest winning streak in sports. Weve got it in us, Oracle helmsman Jimmy Spithill told reporters. Weve come back from a very deep hole. The boys have worked very, very hard. And we want this. Oracle pinned New Zealand in a bad spot at the start of the first race yesterday and forced the Kiwis into a pair of penalties that gave the U.S. a 16.5-second advantage at the first mark. Oracle never trailed, finishing 27 seconds ahead. The Kiwis led at the start of the second race, holding Oracle off around the first mark and finishing the second leg seven seconds ahead. Oracle took advantage of a favorable current to edge close, then passed the Kiwis when they slowed during a pair of maneuvers as the teams raced back upwind toward the Golden Gate Bridge. It was really quite amazing, well, not so much being on the other side of it, New Zealand skipper Dean Barker told reporters. But youve got to give credit where credit is due. Winning Streak Oracles winning streak began after the team exercised an option within the rules to halt racing for a day and regroup. At the time, New Zealand led 4-0 on points.
Team USA’s rally continues
Spithill, a 34-year-old Australian who has been almost defiant about his team’s ability to rebound from the penalties, did a flyby of Pier 27-29, with his crew lining the port hull to wave and pump their fists toward the crowd. Earlier, Oracle forced Emirates Team New Zealand into two penalties during the wild start of Race 17 and won by 27 seconds. The races were so pivotal that software billionaire Larry Ellison, who owns Oracle Team USA, skipped making a keynote speech before 60,000 people at Oracle Open World so he could witness the comeback firsthand from a chase boat on the bay. Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker dominated Spithill at the start and beat him to the first mark with his 72-foot catamaran, allowing him to control the race. The Kiwis led by 7 seconds rounding the second gate mark before committing the blunder that cost them the lead and, perhaps, the oldest trophy in international sports. In Race 17, Spithill appeared in trouble just before the start but hooked behind Barker into a favored leeward position as the boats jockeyed just inside the Golden Gate Bridge. The 72-foot catamarans touched, and Oracle tactician Ben Ainslie yelled at the Kiwis to tack away. They collided again, this time harder, with Ainslie gesturing angrily. Team New Zealand sat dead in the water to clear the penalties as Oracle pulled away. Oracle stayed ahead the whole way around the five-leg course. Spithill and his mates are the first to win seven straight races in an America’s Cup match. There have been three five-race winning streaks when the Cup was best-of-9. This regatta started as best-of-17, but Oracle will need to win 11 races to keep the Cup.
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Watson, who first captained a USA Team in 1993, has brushed off claims that he is too old. The Kansas-born eight-time Major winner said: “The way I’ve answered that question is that age is not an issue, at all, because the players that will be on my … my team; our team, they know that I’ve been a player on The Ryder Cup. They know I’ve been a captain of The Ryder Cup. And they know that I know that they know, and that’s all that matters.” At Gleneagles Watson called on the tournament organisers to do away with the practice of ‘wildcard’ picks for future Ryder Cups. While Watson has taken the step to reduce from four to three his ‘wildcard’ picks he surprised PGA of America President, Ted Bishop, who travelled to Scotland with Watson, in calling for abandoning the notion of ‘wildcard’ picks altogether. “If you really look at it, the purist form of Ryder Cup would be no picks, no captain’s picks, 12 players who qualify,” said Watson. “That’s the way I qualified my first two Ryder Cups, I think it was, or maybe three. All three of them, you had 12 players and no picks. Maybe that’s the way it should go back to. “I reduced my picks this year from four to three, and was thinking actually two, because I wanted the players who are playing, to get on The Ryder Cup Team, to have that as a goal. If they got there, then they have earned something very, very special. And maybe we should go back to no picks.” McGinley, who also will have three ‘wildcard’ picks, reacted to Watson’s call saying: “There is a different dynamic on the European side when we have so many players playing on the PGA Tour. So let’s defer that one, thank you.” And while Watson will be seeking to end European dominance with Europe having won seven of the last nine encounters he also intends to use as a motivator Europe’s ‘come-from-behind’ miracle at Medinah in a goal to return the Ryder Cup to the States for a first time since 2008. “The European Team has been absolutely sensational and I have to say, even though it left a pit in my stomach, just a hole in my stomach after our defeat this last September at Medinah,” said Watson “I have to say that if you look at it objectively, that Ryder Cup was sensational, sensational theatre. It really was something to see. I’m not saying that it didn’t affect our players. I know for a fact that our players through my conversations with our captain last year, Davis Love, he said our players were absolutely depressed over the fact that they last and it kept with them for a while.” “Actually, I hope that that feeling remains for some of those players who will be on my team and our team coming up next year and be able to use that as a motivator. I don’t think there’s going to be much motivation necessary, but maybe just a word or two about, we don’t want this to happen again, will maybe carry them over the hump, and they may make a few more putts when they need to.”
Oracle USA Ties America’s Cup 8-8 Against Emirates New Zealand
REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT YACHTING) ORG XMIT: SFO07 (ROBERT GALBRAITH / Reuters photo / September 24, 2013) 6:04 p.m. CDT, September 24, 2013 SAN FRANCISCO SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle Team USA won two more races against Emirates Team New Zealand to even the America’s Cup finals series on Tuesday, continuing an epic comeback in a regatta looked like a Kiwi cakewalk last week and will now be decided by a single winner-take-all showdown. The final race is scheduled for Wednesday. The stunning turnabout by the U.S. boat continued on every front in perfect sailing conditions Tuesday, with the U.S. team coming from behind to win the second race easily. New Zealand won the start for the first time in recent races, but then committed several tactical errors and Oracle stormed to a lead of nearly a minute. In the first race the reeling Kiwi team sealed it’s fate at the start, drawing a double-penalty as the two boats crossed the line and allowing Oracle to jump out to an insurmountable lead. New Zealand once led the competition 8-1, and numerous Kiwi fans in San Francisco and back home in New Zealand were ready to celebrate victory in a grueling two-year-long Cup campaign. The New Zealand government contributed about $30 million to the effort to bring the Cup back to the sailing-crazed nation. But boat improvements, superior tactics and sharper sailing by Oracle have turned its fortunes around, evidenced in the second race Tuesday when the team appeared to show more speed on every leg of the race. We’ve been doing a lot of work at night with design engineering technicians, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said after the first race. The boat is just going faster and faster and the boys are really starting to believe. Copyright 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC HAWKEYTOWN IPAD APP Through the lens of Tribune photographers, re-live the ups and downs of the season with the FREE issue when you download our FREE Chicago Tribune iPad app here.