NEWPORT, R.I. -- It's unlikely there has ever been a crowd of more joyous sports fans than the Australians, as they watched Australia II sail to victory creating 'the greatest day in Australian sports history.'
'We have witnessed history here today, the Australians have won the America's Cup,' John Raedler, an Australian broadcaster, called live to his 15 million countrymen as Australia II raced easily across the finish line.
Bedlam ensued as thousands of Australian yachts descended on the victorious Australia II. John Bertrand, the normally staid Australia II skipper, raised a can of beer in a victory salute and took a long guzzle.
Aboard the New Englander II, where two Australian radio networks competed from opposite sides of the boat, the 35 Australian journalists broke into tears of joy, slapping each other on the backs and leaning far over the boat's sides to congratulate countrymen on other boats.
Even many of the Americans on board found the Australians' enthusiasm hard to resist. They tried to hide emerging smiles as they watched the scene.
After the victorious yacht's tender pulled alongside to deposit more passengers, beer and champagne, a large green flag embroidered with a yellow kangaroo with red boxing gloves was hoisted up Australia II's mast. She was then taken under tow for a victory ride back to Newport Harbor.
During the race there were many tense moments for the Australians, as their boat trailed from the beginning until the middle of the fifth of six legs.
'Australia II will have to do something fantastic in the last two legs to bring the cup back home,' a worried Raedler broadcast home as it was announced the Australian boat had lost 34 seconds on the previous leg.
But something fantastic did happen. Australia II took a gamble, sailing to the opposite side of the race course where it picked up a fresh breeze and sailed passed a surprised Liberty. As Australia II rounded the final marker and headed on the straightaway toward victory it had picked up three boat lengths.
'What an unbelievable battle,' said Bruce Stannard, an announcer for the Australian Broadcast Corp., which was also transmitting its signal live back to Newport, where it was then transmitted via satellite back to Australia.
'It's an unbelievable battle. Anyone could win,' he said.
Jeanine Treharne, wife of Australia II's tactician, wept and hugged her Australian friends as the Australia II rounded the last mark.
Those on board the New Englander II, the official press boat, agreed the last leg was probably one of the most exciting moments in yacht racing history.
As Australia II glided across the finish line, the committee boat set off its cannon to signal the race's end. Immediately, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of watercraft converged on the joyous Australia II.
At that moment, all Raedler could think to say to his countrymen back back home was, 'It's a wonderful day for all Australians. Hip! Hip! Horray for Australia.'