Spithill skippers Oracle to 1st win in America's Cup - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Spithill skippers Oracle to 1st win in America's Cup

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Emirates Team New Zealand competes against Oracle Team USA during the America's Cup Emirates Team New Zealand competes against Oracle Team USA during the America's Cup

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — Jimmy Spithill skippered Oracle Team USA to its first victory in the 35th America's Cup on Saturday, taking a thriller in Race 6 on the Great Sound to slow Emirates Team New Zealand's momentum.

Oracle Team USA, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison, won by 11 seconds, the closest margin in the first-to-seven match, to cut the Kiwis' lead to 4-1. Team New Zealand has won five races but began with a negative point because Oracle won the qualifiers.

Until the sixth race, the powerhouse American-backed squad, crewed mostly by Australians, had been humbled by the underfunded but crafty Kiwis, helmed by 26-year-old Peter Burling.

Team New Zealand, the hard-luck loser to Oracle in 2013, gained during a wind shift on leg four of the sixth race and passed Oracle in the matchup of 50-foot foiling catamarans.

But Oracle closed the distance and the boats were even as they went through the gate mark five. The Kiwis had a bad maneuver and Spithill sailed into the lead.

This is a rematch of the 2013 America's Cup on San Francisco Bay, when Oracle rebounded from an 8-1 deficit to win eight straight races in one of the greatest comebacks in sports.

In Race 5 earlier Saturday, Team New Zealand benefited from two penalties and another mistake by Oracle and won by 2 minutes, 4 seconds, the biggest margin in the match.

Even with the wide margin in Race 5, Oracle Team USA looked faster than it did in getting humbled in four races last weekend.

In Race 5, Spithill, an Australian, crossed the starting line a split second too soon and had to drop two lengths behind Team New Zealand.

He closed the gap and crossed just ahead of the Kiwis on the third leg.

The next time the boats came together, Team New Zealand was slightly ahead and on favored starboard tack. Spithill dipped underneath. Both boats pushed the protest button, and the umpires decided Spithill didn't give Burling enough room. That was enough to allow Burling to speed well ahead.

Oracle had another mistake on the fourth leg when it made a bad gybe and came off its foils.

Burling could become the youngest helmsman to win sailing's greatest prize. Spithill was 30 when he won it in 2010.

Races 7 and 8 are scheduled for Sunday.

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