Oracle complete America's Cup comeback

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Last updated 10:49 26/09/2013
Fairfax NZ

Shed 10 has seen the highs and the lows of the America's Cup, and this morning's loss to Oracle left the fans disappointed but proud of Team New Zealand.

'Thank you and sorry' - Barker

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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison holds the America's Cup trophy aloft.
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A fan at Auckland's Shed 10 battles to watch the final America's Cup race.

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Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said losing the America's Cup final was "hard to fathom ... hard to swallow" and he's gutted at not being able to bring the trophy back to New Zealand.

He was proud of the way his team fronted in the last race today but conceded the inevitable happened with Oracle's superior boat speed giving them the edge and a 9-8 win on the points table.

"It's very hard to fathom," Barker said.

"But we felt we didn't leave anything on the table today.

"We knew that upwind we had a fight on our hands against a boat that's fast, it's hard to swallow.

"We got the start we wanted and led around the first two marks but they got us upwind."

Barker said Oracle's improvement had to be commended.

"Look back two weeks ... the gains they have made were phenomenal. We're probably lucky they didn't do it earlier."

Tactician Ray Davies said the crew gave it all today but admitted they simply weren't good enough in the end as rivals Oracle claimed the America's Cup.

"It's very sad," Davies said as the Kiwis looked back on their 9-8 defeat, having lost the last eight races.

"We gave it our all today, and we're proud of that. We can hold our heads high.

"But Oracle came to the party and they deserved to win."

Davies felt they had pushed Oracle hard but couldn't hold off their incredible comeback.

"They were phenomenal," he said.

"They really picked their game up. They had to sail well to beat us and they did that."

Davies said they had run out of development gains as the business end of the final dragged on, with the match lasting 19 days in a relentless final, allowing little time off the water for anyone.

"We felt the boat was going well at the beginning ... we had it optimised.

"But Oracle found a couple of gears and good on them. That was the difference."

"We're very disappointed with the way today finished up," Barker added.

"San Francisco have been such fantastic hosts, they have made the team feel incredibly welcome.

"To Oracle, amazing, we thought it was in our favour and the way they have turned things around, is amazing.

"The never say die attitude of my team has been incredible, even today when the writing was on the wall.

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"And to our most loyal supporters here in San Francisco, at home and around the world ... you'll never know what the support means to us. We gave it our absolute all. Thank you for the belief."

The loss leaves the Kiwi team on the wrong side of history as Oracle won their eighth straight race to keep the Auld Mug today.

A march that seemed impossible and then inevitable was rounded off in style with a 44sec victory.

SPITHILL CROWS AFTER WIN

Speaking at the helm after the win, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill was naturally overjoyed.

"What a race ... it was fantastic," he said.

To come from behind, these guys just showed so much heart."

Spithill said he had the easy job the way his crew and boat worked.

"They can make you look good. They are so great . . . to be facing the barrel of the gun at 8-1 what did the guys do? They didn't even flinch."

Spithill said syndicate chief executive Sir Russell Coutts and backer Larry Ellison had spoken to the team this morning and told them to simply keep on doing what they had been doing, to keep fighting.

TEAM NZ FUTURE IN DOUBT

After the loss, Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton said he couldn't guarantee the future of team.

"I've always said if we didn't win today, it would be difficult to keep the team together, particularly financially," the chief executive, who had a grinding role on board Aotearoa, said.

Prime Minister John Key tweeted "bugger" after the race and said the Government had not shut the door on funding another challenge.

A GREAT COMEBACK

It has been labelled the greatest comeback in the history of sport and it's hard to disagree.

Facing match point at 1-8, Oracle clawed their way back and then simply muscled their way past the Kiwis with increasing power and precision to win 9-8 on the scoreboard.

Winning seven races while facing match-point was undeniably impressive and to actually take out the final 11-8 on the water, having to overcome two penalties for cheating, confirmation of their dominance.

Today's final race was virtually a carbon-copy of yesterday's second race which really hammered home to the Kiwis that they were off the pace.

Barker did everything right but just didn't have the pace upwind to force the issue.

Team New Zealand won a tight start and held off Oracle for a 3sec lead at the first mark.

They held Oracle off in a 40-knot drag race downwind to edge ahead by 7sec at the bottom mark.

But Oracle created a split there and chipped away at Team New Zealand's lead over the first half of the upwind beat.

Then in the second half they just pushed the turbo-button again and sped away to leave Aotearoa in their wake.

New Zealand were powerless to do anything about it.

They couldn't engage Oracle in a tacking duel because they couldn't get close enough to apply the pressure.

- Fairfax Media

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