Team USA forces winner-take-all America’s Cup race
By Darryl Matsuda
San Jose Mercury News
SAN FRANCISCO _ It’s down to one race.
Oracle Team USA set an America’s Cup record Tuesday with its seventh consecutive victory as the American team got even in this classic 34th edition of sailing’s biggest event. Oracle defeated Emirates Team New Zealand in Races 17 and 18 to force a winner-take-all Race 19 on Wednesday.
Oracle’s victories, once again, prevented the Kiwis from clinching the Cup. Now the score is officially 8-8, even though Oracle actually leads 10-8 on the water. Two of Oracle’s victories were taken away because of a penalty issued for cheating in last year’s America’s Cup World Series warmup event. Because of that penalty, Oracle needs to win 11 races to defend the Cup.
In Race 17, Oracle won the start after drawing two penalties at the starting line. There was contact between Oracle’s right front hull and New Zealand’ rear left hull. The Kiwis were penalized for not getting out of the way because Oracle had the right of way as the leeward boat.
The American boat then sprinted out to a 17-second advantage at Mark 1, then stretched it to 29 seconds after the downwind Leg 2. New Zealand cut it down to 17 seconds on the upwind Leg 3. But Oracle maintained that lead at Mark 4 and finished 27 seconds ahead.
The previous record for longest winning streak in modern America’s Cup history was five, held shared by New Zealand (1995, 2000) and Alinghi (2003).
Soon, this 34th America’s Cup could challenge Beach Blanket Babylon for longest running show in San Francisco. Tuesday was the record-extending 18th day of this America’s Cup. The former endurance mark was 16 days set in 2003 in New Zealand.
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