The defender of the America's Cup, ORACLE TEAM USA, celebrated their historic win after a monumental comeback from sure defeat by Emirates Team New Zealand just two weeks ago, by spraying Mumm's on stage, joined by Larry Ellison who appears to have stayed dry.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill says in Australia children learn to never give up and he never has, now age 33 with two young sons who joined him on stage each morning for the dock out shows. He continually presented his team as the underdog, talking about how they started the race with negative two points and a big fine levied on the whole team after a jury decision against them where they also lost three team members.
They unlike the popular and well-respected Kiwis, a class act, faced demoralization as well as the faster boat of the challenger. The Kiwis had been set to take the Cup home to Auckland, racing time after time at match point, just one race from the ninth win required. The aristocratic, tall and handsome Dean Barker with his perfect skin remained poised and calm if not fond of one liners or cute one-word responses to media questions. Except for the heart stopping slow motion spectacle where the Kiwi boat teetered on edge, literally on the edge of disaster, 41 year old Barker seemed a bit glib even and very likeable. All in a day's work.
Barker and many of the Kiwis look incredibly photogenic even though each team maintained peak condition and many sailors have Olympic accomplishments. The photogenic quality should be a great asset for the Kiwis in the highly televised, recorded and simulcast races, with seven cameras mounted on each AC72 along with an official camera boat and helicopters. Fans downloaded the app to watch the Cup on smart phones. After all, the point of this 34th Cup was to broaden and diversity the audience and to start more youth sailing.
The Kiwis seemed poised to wrap it up time after time. They were far ahead on a low wind day but could not finish the course before forty minutes and the race was called. Another day the races were called not for rain that morning but due to wind coming from the wrong direction so that the racers would find it impossible to finish within the time limit of forty minutes.
Spithill weathered it all and so did the Kiwis, but in the end Spithill won not just the two points he needed to get to zero he won nine more for a total of eleven. He had zero margin for error and dominated time after time, must-win after must-win.
Miraculously, as it turns out the American team played their postponement card and took stock, took an honest and critical look at their situation and made some changes to the boat and to strategy. Everybody wondered what they had done after the uproar they caused by putting Brit Ainslie on board and removing SF Bay Local and America's Cup winner John Kostecki. While Ainslie has been the tactician for the opposition, Dean Barker, it was Kiwi Russell Coutts, the CEO, who got the team to change strategy and sail a wider arc but at a faster speed to make up for the extra distance, gaining overall.
The team also made some technical changes, each one checked by the officials. They made changes daily and the boat was checked and approved daily. It was a mystery as to what the changes were though and after winning the Cup Spithill joked that the team actually did nothing, he was just messing with the press. That's a joke, Jimmy seems to have recovered his jocular mentality. A good sign. The fun loving Aussie also loves paddle boarding and he even flew with the Blue Angels, Russell Coutts posting youtube video of Spithill using the vomit bag. He kissed the tarmac upon landing.
Jimmy Spithill and his team all along never agreed with the decision of the jury and swore to take it out on the water. He meant it. He projected conviction, determination, steadfastness. He projected comaraderie and leadership and pride in his boys, one could hear it in his voice. The closer he got to the Cup, he started giving thumbs up signs and crowds surrounded him for pictures and autographs after press conferences.
So check out the video of he and his boys spraying Mumm's champagne and even Red Bull on stage at the awards ceremony. Gavin Newsom sported his own Oracle gear when he said a few words and looked completely like one of the team in his shades and Oracle cap with the black team jersey.
Larry Ellison lifted the Cup at Spithill's side but stayed low profile until the brief press conference where he seemed chipper and looking forward to the next Cup in San Francisco.
For more information: www.AmericasCup.com
Check out youth sailing around the Bay at www.SailSFBay.org, particularly the 75 year old program on Oakland’s Lake Merritt.
For more stories by this writer check out CBS San Francisco's website under Eye on the Bay, San Francisco arts & culture "Best Of"; and San Francisco Arts & Culture on Examiner.com. Subscribe by hittng the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this article.
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