By Gary Anderson

September 25 - Team Oracle USA celebrate their remarkable win in San Francisco BayOn one of the most dramatic days in the competition's history, Oracle Team USA, inspired by Britain's master tactician Sir Ben Ainslie, retained their America's Cup title in San Francisco Bay by clinching the final race of the series to complete a remarkable comeback from 8-1 down to win 9-8 in the end.

Oracle, skippered by Australian James Spithill, crossed the line 44 seconds ahead of Team New Zealand in the final race of the series to the delight of the crowds lining the shoreline under the Golden Gate Bridge, to retain the title they won in Valencia in 2010.

That victory in Spain saw Spithill become the youngest skipper in history to lead his team to victory in the America's Cup aged 30.

But his team were struggling at the start of this year's final series and were trailing the Kiwi boat by four races to one before replacing veteran American tactician John Kostecki with four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben

Kostecki and Oracle's cause was not helped at the beginning of the race series by being docked two points after an international jury found them guilty of illegally modifying catamarans without the consent of the Measurement Committee, which meant Oracle's first two race wins were chalked off, leaving them having to win 11 of the 19 races to be crowned champions.

However, Oracle, who are bankrolled by US software billionaire Larry Ellison, continued to struggle and at 4-1 down decided to call on the services of Sir Ben to try and reverse their fortunes.

The man from Macclesfield could not make an immediate impression as the New Zealand boat continued to dominate, racing into an 8-1 lead which left it needing only one more race win to clinch the series, but then the most dramatic comeback in the 162-year history of the America's Cup began in earnest.

Team Oracle USA skipper James Spithill lifts the America's Cup for the second time in succession following victory over Team New ZealandTeam Oracle USA skipper James Spithill lifts the America's Cup for the second time in succession following victory over Team New Zealand

Lead by Spithill, Sir Ben and another London 2012 gold medal winner, Australian strategist Tom Slingsby, Oracle began clawing back the deficit, primarily through finally getting to grips when sailing in upwind conditions, an area that they struggled in at the start of the race.

Despite Team New Zealand coming within two minutes of clinching that crucial ninth point in race 13, which had to be abandoned due to the 40-minute time limit having elapsed, Oracle began picking up momentum and reeled off seven straight race wins to leave it all to sail for on the final day.

The deciding race today saw the challengers get off to a better start, beating Oracle to the first mark, but it was the holder's superior upwind handling skills - that had cost them so dearly earlier in the series - that enabled the defending champions to race home and complete a remarkable turnaround.

"It was a fantastic race," said Spithill.

"We wouldn't have it any other way.

"We came from behind, the guys showed so much heart.

"On your own you're nothing, but a team like this can make you look great.

"We were facing the barrel of a gun at 8-1 and the guys didn't even flinch.

"Thanks to San Francisco, this is one hell of a day."

Four-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie was drafted in by Team Oracle USA to help with tacticsFour-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie was drafted in by Team Oracle USA to help with tactics

Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor in history, became the first Briton to be on an America's Cup winning boat since Charlie Barr skippered Columbia to three successive wins in 1899, 1901 and 1903.

"It's been one of the most amazing comebacks ever, I think, almost in any sport but certainly in sailing and to be a part of that is a huge privilege," said the 36-year-old.

"To be perfectly honest, we had a mountain to climb.

"We knew we had to sort ourselves out.

"We had to get the boat going faster.

"We did that.

"The designers did a great job and we had to start sailing better.

"We got the momentum going and we started believing in ourselves.

"When you do that, you can become quite strong."

Sir Ben dedicated the win to his great friend and Beijing 2008 Star class gold medallist Andrew Simpson, who died in May of this year while preparing for the America's Cup in San Francisco with Swedish boat Artemis.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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