After a 15-year absence, the America's Cup, yacht racing's most prestigious prize, has come home to the United States. Victory for the U.S. syndicate, BMW Oracle Racing, was swift and decisive - over almost before it began. Software billionaire Larry Ellison's massive trimaran, USA-17, needed only two races to reclaim the silver ewer that was first awarded to the schooner America in 1851. So in case you missed it here's a recap.
Skippered by Australian James Spithill, USA-17 easily outran the catamaran that biotech billionaire and Alinghi syndicate head Ernesto Bertarelli was helming himself in his defense for the Société Nautique de Genève. The racing took place Feb. 12-14 off Valencia, Spain.
The 33rd Cup competition began with two years of bitter litigation in New York State Supreme Court. The animosity continued to the end, culminating in a mutiny of sorts aboard the committee boat when the principal race officer tried to start the second and final race. (Click here for a roundup of the legal wrangling.)
Watch Race 1 highlights above.
Ellison's heavier, stronger trimaran sported a rigid wing for a sail, which propelled USA-17 to victory by huge margins over Bertarelli's Alinghi 5, which carried a rig of traditional soft sails. Ellison's wing was so powerful that during the downwind leg of the first race - a 40-mile course comprising 20-mile upwind and downwind legs - BOR showed speeds of 27 knots in around 8 knots of breeze. The pattern held during the second race - a triangular course consisting of a 13-mile beat to windward followed by two 13-mile reaches - when the U.S. boat was clocked at more than 33 knots on a broad reach.
In both races, Alinghi was penalized before the start and had to complete a penalty turn. In each race, the Swiss grabbed the lead on the first leg. In the first, Spithill ran over the start line before the gun, had to claw his way back to restart and then found himself stalled. But halfway up the first leg, he was back in command and never lost the lead. He finished 1,531 yards ahead of Alinghi at the end of the downwind run. In the second race, Alinghicaught the shifting wind at the start and was almost to the windward mark when Spithill slid USA-17 between Alinghi 5 and the mark boat, rounding ahead by 24 seconds. The Americans then stretched it out on both reaching legs, winning by 5 minutes, 26 seconds after the Swiss completed their penalty turn.