- POSTED: 21 Sep 2013 07:01
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Oracle Team USA again denied Emirates Team New Zealand an America's Cup-clinching victory on Friday, snatching the lead in Race 13 and riding it to the finish.
SAN FRANCISCO: Oracle Team USA again denied Emirates Team New Zealand an America's Cup-clinching victory on Friday, snatching the lead in Race 13 and riding it to the finish.
The win by the defending champion came after what appeared to be a certain Kiwi victory was thwarted by light winds that caused the day's first race to be abandoned due to a time limit to complete the race.
The USA must still win six more races in a row to keep New Zealand from the one victory it needs to wrest yachting's coveted Cup from the hands of Oracle team owner Larry Ellison.
"It was really a great day," said Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill. "Sometimes things go your way, and we're going to take it."
New Zealand skipper Dean Barker described the day as "frustrating," saying "we know we can win this thing."
In the race that was completed, the Kiwis beat the USA over the starting line and rounded the first mark a few seconds ahead of Oracle.
The defending champion snatched the lead back in a cross-over that resulted in New Zealand being tagged with a penalty.
Oracle dodge to avoid colliding with New Zealand but jumped ahead and grabbed onto a lead that grew through the pivotal upwind third leg of the race.
The USA remained in control of the race and crossed the finish a minute and 24 seconds ahead of the Kiwis.
The Oracle victory came in a Race 13 rematch after light winds forced the first attempt at the race to be halted when the 40-minute time limit was reached as the Kiwis sailed unchallenged toward the finish.
The Kiwis and the defending champions were nearly even at the start and the USA was ahead slightly as the catamarans crept slowly around the first gate.
After days of high-speed racing on the bay, the AC72 catamarans seemed to be moving in slow motion as the teams jockeyed to catch puffs of the capriciously shifting breeze.
New Zealand seized a lead that continued to grow, rounding the third gate more than two minutes ahead of the USA. The Kiwis were racing the clock rather than the USA from that point forward, but failed to make it past the final marker before time expired.
"It's a shame really," said New Zealand tactician Ray Davies. "But the wind limit is the wind limit; the time limit is the time limit, and you just have to deal with it."
The outcome was a reprieve for the USA, which lost six of the first seven races but has stubbornly refused to surrender the trophy.
"We were obviously staring down the barrel of defeat there," said Oracle tactician Ben Ainslee.