Oracle Team USA celebrates after winning the final race of the America's Cup Regatta against Emirates New Zealand (in distance) on San Francisco Bay on September 25, 2013. Oracle Team USA defeated challenger Emirates New Zealand 9-8 after being down 8-1 to retain the cup. UPI/Terry Schmitt | License Photo
It was a storybook ending for Oracle Team USA at the America's Cup, overcoming an 8-1 deficit to beat Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8 Wednesday, in the first "winner-take-all" finale in the Cup's 152-year history.
The team aboard Larry Ellison's Oracle catamaran started the final race behind the Emirates boat, but stayed close until they found an opening.
After rounding Mark 2, the Americans and the Kiwis split the course, one tacking and one jibing, and it gave Team USA the moment they were looking for: Coming into the cross with the right-of-way, the Americans crossed 200 meters ahead of the Kiwis and never looked back.
The Oracle boat rounded the third mark 26 seconds ahead, and stretched it from there, crossing the finish line 23 minutes and 23 seconds after the start -- 44 seconds ahead of Emirates.
The 2013 America's Cup got off to a bad start for the Team USA on September 7, already behind by a deficit of two races thanks to a cheating penalty handed down after they put bags of lead pellets in the hulls of the catamarans at a 2012 warmup event.
The penalty meant Team USA, defending after a victory in the 2010 Cup, would have to win 11 races to win, while New Zealand only needed to win nine.
Even worse, the Kiwis won six of the first eight races, putting Team USA behind 6-0. By September 18, Team New Zealand was on the brink of victory, leading 8-1 and ahead in the second race of the day. They were well ahead on the fourth leg, but about 4 minutes before the finish, the race was postponed by the race committee after exceeding the 40-minute race limit.
WIth New Zealand narrowly missing victory, the momentum shifted for Team USA, and they never again lost, winning eight more match races -- including Wednesday's final race -- to keep the "Auld Mug" in American hands.
In the end, it wasn't even close.