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America's Cup down to the wire after historic USA comeback

Oracle Team USA is one race away from a historic comeback over Emirates Team New Zealand in the America's Cup.

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com
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America's Cup down to the wire after historic USA comeback
Emirates New Zealand (R) enters the leeward gate ahead of Oracle Team USA in race 18 of the America's Cup Regatta on San Francisco Bay on September 24, 2013. The Americans won races 17 and 18 to even the series 8-8. The America's Cup becomes a single race, winner take all. UPI/Terry Schmitt | License Photo

The America's Cup got off to a terrible start for Oracle Team USA, as they fell behind Emirates Team New Zealand 8-1.

The Kiwis would only need one more win to complete a resounding victory over the Americans.

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Still, just a week ago, Oracle's skipper, Jimmy Spithill, liked his chances.

"I think the question is: Imagine if these guys lost from here?" he said. "What an upset that would be. They have almost got it in the bag."

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Heading into Wednesday's race, the Americans have managed to tie the series, 8-8, just one victory away from the greatest comeback in the regatta's 162-year-history.

The rubber match is actually the 19th bout of the regatta, since Team USA started behind by two races after it was docked for cheating in a warm-up race. The penalty, which required the Americans to win 10 races just to tie New Zealand's eight, coupled with the incredible comeback, has made this year's America's Cup the longest in its history at 19 days.

The final race is set for Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET in the San Francisco Bay, winds permitting.

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"It's the most exciting day of all of our lives and we wouldn't want to be anywhere else," Spithill said Tuesday, clearly loving it. "Mate, bring on tomorrow."

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On top of the 18 races leading to the Team USA and Team New Zealand's 8-8 tie, another 10 races were postponed or abandoned due to conditions.

No team has come back to win after facing multiple match points since 1983, but changes to the boat, crew and swapping out tactician and San Francisco Bay veteran for Brit Ben Ainslie, the Americans have pulled even. Still, New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said winning it all is a relatively simple matter.

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"Try to be first across the finish line," Barker said.

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