Jimmy Spithill and his mates with Oracle Team USA were masterful in light air Sunday on San Francisco Bay, winning two races against Emirates Team New Zealand to stay alive in the America's Cup.
Oracle's 72-foot catamaran jumped to huge leads in both races and has won four straight since the Kiwis reached match point on Wednesday.
“What a fantastic day – really good racing under a lot of pressure,” said Spithill. “Tom and Ben did a fantastic job when we had some key decisions to make. A day like today it really is all about the tactics. They were really under a lot of pressure a few times, but they kept their cool. Everyone stayed calm and sailed two great races.”
Oracle cut the Kiwis' lead to 8-5. Docked two points in the biggest cheating scandal in the 162-year history of the America's Cup, Oracle needs four more wins to keep the oldest trophy in international sports.
“It’s been a whole team effort, it hasn’t been about any individuals,” Oracle tactician Ben Ainslie said. “It’s been about everyone come together, improving the boat, working well as a team, and working out how we can get ahead of the opposition. Whether through making the boat faster or sailing better, I think we’re doing that. Having the momentum now makes the guys believe that they can go out there and win, and that we can defend the America’s Cup. That’s a fantastic place to be.
Oracle won Race 14 by 23 seconds and then took Race 15 by 37 seconds.
Oracle has won six of the last eight races after an awful start that led Spithill to replace American tactician John Kostecki with British Olympic star Ben Ainslie, who had been the helmsman of the backup boat.
Racing continues on Monday with race 16 scheduled for 1:15 p.m.
Emirates Team New Zealand maintains the overall lead at 8-5 in points and 8-7 in wins.
The winner of the 34th America’s Cup is the first team to win nine points.
“We sailed a clean day,” said off side trimmer Rome Kirby. “It was two tough races, and now we’re back at it tomorrow.”