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America’s Cup Comeback

September 25th, 2013 · 3 Comments · The National, UAE

Two weeks ago I pronounced Oracle Team USA dead, in the America’s Cup. Ready for a burial at sea, with Emirates Team New Zealand presiding.

I also expressed my dissatisfaction in racing multihull versus monohull boats, and the amount of time America’s Cup contenders spend in court, fighting over this, that or the other.

Then something weird happened.

After Emirates Team New Zealand took an 8-1 lead, in a best-of-17 series — meaning they needed one more win to take the Cup back to Auckland — Oracle began winning.

And winning. And winning. There were breaks of days when the wind was too strong, or coming in the wrong direction, but whenever they raced, Oracle won.

In retrospect, it appears the Oracle team took advantage of every minute not racing to figure out why their boat was not performing as well as New Zealand.

And, as Larry Ellison (yes, the software billionaire Larry Ellison) later put it, they “broke the code” and came up with some tweaks in weight distribution as well as the shape of the sail, and suddenly they were as fast as the Kiwis … and then faster.

And what do we have? The America’s Cup staying in America, and one of the great comebacks in sports history.

Eight consecutive victories for the U.S. team (with a British tactician, an Australian captain and only one Yank in the boat, at all) … and a big celebration.

Two items of interest. To me, anyway.

1. I banged out a column on the event for The National. Locals here are not exactly fans of Oracle or Ellison, given that he went to court to avoid contesting the America’s Cup here in the UAE, in 2010, at Ras Al Khaimah, in the northern part of the UAE. My sense is not everyone here remembers that all happened, almost four years ago.

2. That has to be one of the great sports comebacks. Anywhere, anytime. Down 8-1, first to nine wins … and you reel off eight straight? That’s memorable.

The writers in San Francisco were taxed to find a comparable situation.

The Brits seemed to settle on the “Miracle at Medinah” — Europe’s big Sunday comeback in the Ryder Cup last year — or Liverpool’s rally from a 3-0 deficit to win the Uefa Champions League final in 2005.

Yanks, meanwhile, tended to go for the Boston Red Sox and their rally from a 3-0 hole in the 2003 American League Championship Series to a seven-game victory over the New York Yankees. (Still the first and only seven-game series victory, in baseball, by a team that trailed 3-0 in games.)

Oh, and one more thing.

ESPN was trashed — and rightfully so — for ignoring the America’s Cup. Their coverage was not even bad; it was nonexistent.

Read the comments at the bottom of this results story — which ESPN deemed no better than their third-best news article a few hours after Oracle’s victory.

Several people who commented noted that ESPN has long since given up the concept of balanced coverage. ESPN is about promoting and reporting on events they televise. The end. Which is disappointing.

So, I would still prefer a monohull America’s Cup, and making it cheaper so more teams would get involved. These 72-foot catamarans with hydrofoils … no thank you.

But what looked like a boring, lopsided event, turned out to be interesting and entertaining … and fun. Memorable.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 James // Sep 26, 2013 at 8:14 am

    If I recall correctly, Oracle also suffered a 2-race penalty for something or other, effectively making their ‘first to 9’ regatta a ‘first to 11’ for them.

    I watched the replay of the final race last night. Pretty darn amazing.

    And I’m with you on the hulls issue. They should return to the old-school monohulls. Lately the races seem to be determined by who has the most money to spend, whether on boats or lawyers, rather than who can sail the best.

  • 2 Bill N. // Sep 28, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Yeah, on air, ESPN doesn’t care about much of anything (at this time of year) but, in this order: NFL, College Football, more of both of those, then MLB (the playoff races have helped that some, but not much), then more football, NBA (which will move up the list soon) … and then, well, not much else.

  • 3 Nz Vacations // Jul 8, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    This year, NZ won the cup. Can’t wait for more action in the next season.

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