SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jimmy Spithill and defending champion Oracle Team USA sped around San Francisco Bay to win Race 12 by 31 seconds Thursday and prevent Emirates Team New Zealand from sailing off with the America's Cup.
With the Kiwis at match point, Oracle Team USA responded with a dominating race to pull to 8-2. Although Oracle Team USA has won four races, it was penalized two points in the biggest cheating scandal in the 162-year history of the America's Cup. It needs seven victories to keep the oldest trophy in international sports at the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Oracle Team USA is owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp.
The Kiwis could still win the Auld Mug on Thursday, with Race 13 scheduled later in the day.
Oracle was sailing so well that its 72-foot catamaran foiled upwind at 31 knots at one point, riding only on hydrofoils with both hulls out of the water as the boats zigzagged toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
After struggling earlier this regatta, the American-backed crew continues to improve while sailing the only upwind leg on the 5-leg course. Oracle Team USA has improved its technique and has made adjustments to its 131-foot wing sail.
Oracle Team USA won the start after Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker got too close to the line too early. The Kiwis had to bear away a bit, and Spithill hooked behind them and into controlling position.