This America’s Cup race certainly has us Newporters glowing with pride. Our own Rome Kirby is aboard Oracle which yesterday claimed a fifth straight victory over Emirates Team New Zealand and is staying alive and well in the what has become the longest America’s Cup in history. The race would have been tied at 8 if defending champion Oracle Team USA hadn’t been hit with the harshest penalties in the regatta’s 162-year history. The penalty came in yesterday’s race when although the teams are tied on the water, the Kiwis came out of the race 8-6 because Oracle was docked two points when wing sail trimmer Dirk de Ridder was tossed from the regatta after it was discovered that the syndicate illegally modified boats during warm-up races called the America’s Cup World Series.
That shrinking lead no doubt has all of New Zealand on edge. The Kiwis have been on match point since Wednesday, only to watch Oracle’s improved 72-foot catamaran sail ahead in a determined attempt to keep the oldest trophy in international sports. Oracle Team USA, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison, needs three more wins to keep the Auld Mug. With race 17 and possibly 18 scheduled for today, Australian-born skipper, Jimmy Spithill is attempting to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. His five-race run has matched the longest winning streak in America’s Cup match history.
Spithill was quoted as saying, “We’re sailors. We’re athletes. We’re not about the politics and all of that sort of stuff.” He continued, “Life’s not fair sometimes. … We can win this Cup. They can take as many races as they want. But for us, we know we can win this Cup if we win the next few races. So we can control our own destiny there. Me and the boys are incredibly fired up. I’ve never seen them like this before. The entire team, there’s a lot of great energy there.”
From Aquidneck Island to San Francisco, let’s all be sure to send our team some positive vibes…Go Team Oracle!
The Kirby family cheers on Team Oracle from their home in Newport!
Quotes and stats from this article by Bernie Wilson.
Some photos from America’s Cup homepage.