HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — Helmsman Peter Burling and Emirates Team New Zealand won the America’s Cup on Monday with a resounding romp against software tycoon Larry Ellison’s two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA.
The underfunded but resourceful Kiwis claimed the oldest trophy in international sports with another dominating light-air sprint around the Great Sound aboard their fast, 50-foot foiling catamaran. They won Race 9 to clinch the 35th America’s Cup match at 7-1.
As soon as the red-and-black cat crossed the finish line, the normally reserved crew of six began whooping and jumped up onto the trampoline netting and into a joyful group hug
“We’re on top of the world,” said Burling, who at 26 becomes the youngest helmsman to win sailing’s greatest prize in a competition that dates to 1851.
Magnums of champagne arrived and Burling and crewman Blair Tuke, who won Olympic gold and silver medals together, sprayed the crew.
There were five Kiwis on the crew plus Australian Glenn Ashby, a multihull wiz who serves as skipper and controls the wingsail.
There were no Americans on Oracle Team USA’s crew, which included five Australians and one from Antigua.
Team New Zealand started with a negative point because Oracle won the qualifiers, forcing the Kiwis to win eight races to return the Auld Mug to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland for the first time since 2003.
The Kiwis atoned for their mind-numbing collapse in 2013, when they blew an 8-1 lead as Oracle won eight straight races in one of the greatest comebacks in sports.
Race 9 was another blowout for Team New Zealand, which represents a small, sailing-mad island nation.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill put Oracle in the lead rounding the first mark, but the fast Kiwi cat overhauleld the American-flagged boat and sailed into the lead on the downwind second leg.
The Kiwis’ fast boat was powered by a revolutionary grinding system in which they replaced traditional arm power with leg power. They installed four stationary bikes in each hull, with the “cyclors” powering the hydraulic systems used to trim the wingsail and control the daggerboards that are tipped with hydrofoils.
Among the crew was Simon van Velthooven, who won a bronze medal in track cycling at the London Olympics.
In 2010, Spithill became the youngest skipper to win the America’s Cup, at 30. That was the first of two Cup victories for Ellison, one of the world’s richest men.
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