Thu, Sep 26, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Oracle pull even in epic comeback

HISTORIC RALLY:Oracle Team USA, who only last week seemed set to lose the America’s Cup to Emirates Team New Zealand, came back to force a deciding showdown

Reuters, SAN FRANCISCO

The two 72-foot (21.9m) catamarans made contact again as they drifted across the line. A second foul was called on the Kiwis, which had stopped dead in the water as Oracle sped off to a large lead around the first mark.

New Zealand used textbook starting tactics in the second race to get a solid lead around the first mark, but Oracle gained ground going downwind and, after New Zealand mistimed a tack as the boats converged on the upwind leg, foiled past the Kiwis to open a big lead.

The regatta was supposed to be over on Saturday, but racing has been postponed several times for too much wind, not enough wind and wind from the wrong direction, dragging the event out into a third week. Rule changes lowered the wind limits after the Swedish team suffered a fatal training accident in May.

A two-race penalty against Oracle for illegal boat modifications in a preliminary regatta has also lengthened the competition. Oracle have actually won 10 races on the water, but only eight of them count.

New Zealand yachting fans are now left to wonder whether Barker and his team can take a page from Oracle’s book and find a way to win with their backs to the wall.

“I’m struggling to keep positive. My faith in the team and Dean is being sorely tested. We’re only one [win] away, but my nerves are a bit like our chances, in tatters,” Wellington office worker Will Christie said.

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