HAMILTON, Bermuda — Oracle Team USA is back in deep trouble in the America’s Cup against Emirates Team New Zealand. And in contrast to last time in San Francisco, Oracle will not be able to call on the nautical knowledge of Ben Ainslie to bail it out.
Ainslie, the star British sailor, joined the Oracle crew midway through the Cup match in 2013 and played a major role in helping the team overcome an 8-1 deficit and retain the trophy.
Now, with Ainslie gone to his own team, the Oracle skipper, Jimmy Spithill, and the team’s deep-pocketed owner, Larry Ellison, will have to rely on other extreme measures in hopes of again turning the tide against the Kiwis.
The challenge looked enormous Sunday as Team New Zealand swept to two more lopsided victories in light, shifting winds and opened up a 3-0 lead on Oracle in this first-to-seven series. The Kiwis won the first race Sunday by 49 seconds, the next by 1 minute 12 seconds.
For those watching from home, the gaps looked big. From close range on a chase boat in Bermuda’s Great Sound, they were even more striking. Oracle was more than 800 meters behind at one suspense-free stage in the day’s second race, too far back to even sail in the Kiwis’ wake. By the time the Americans arrived at Team New Zealand’s previous location, the wake had already disappeared.
“Absolute domination,” said Ken Read, a former America’s Cup helmsman who is now an NBC analyst.
On board Oracle, there were barks of frustration and an occasional oath from the fiery Spithill.
The only good news on a demoralizing afternoon for the Americans was that they now have an extraordinary opportunity to regroup: There is a five-day break before the next set of races, scheduled for Saturday.
“We’ve been here before,” Spithill said, referring …read more