- Godofredo Vasquez/Special to the S.F. Examiner
- Oracle skippers James Spithill, left, and Russell Coutts blast each other with Champagne at the podium.
Oracle Team USA finished off a dominating week with a sweep of the week’s two America’s Cup World Series events as Russell Coutts’ team edged out teammate Jimmy Spithill in an all-Oracle final match race and Spithill finished the final fleet race in second place to earn the fleet-racing championship.
Spithill needed to finish in at least second place to stay ahead of Chris Draper’s Luna Rossa Piranha boat.
“I can’t emphasize how much the boys fought around the race track,” Spithill said. “We battled our way back to the top in each event and were rewarded for it.”
Spithill was as far back as fifth place during the final fleet race, but made dramatic strides over the final two legs to edge out Team Korea at the last moment to earn 25 points for second place and finish with 86 points for the week, one ahead of Piranha, which won Sunday’s fleet race.
Draper said after the race that this was still more than he had hoped for.
“When we came here, we never thought we’d get second overall in the fleet racing here,” Draper said. “It’s been an awesome team effort to get ready for this regatta.”
Piranha’s win Sunday was its only first-place finish, but Draper’s crew placed in the top five in all but one fleet race, giving them enough points for second place overall.
Team Korea — behind skipper Nathan Outteridge — drew a penalty as it tried to edge out Spithill at the finish line, forcing the team to slow down and allow Oracle Team to pass. It was the second time a penalty has come back to haunt Korea, as the team lost its first match race of the week due in no small part to violations.
Coutts fell out of contention in the fleet-racing championship after crashing into a Race Committee boat during the first fleet race Friday, leaving them unable to finish that race or compete in the second race of the day.
In the final match race, Coutts edged out Spithill by less than a boat length.
The sweep came as no surprise, as Team Oracle USA has been practicing on San Francisco Bay all year and had the advantage of knowing the conditions much better than the competition. Spithill repeatedly credited the support of the crowd as well, saying his team members got a visible boost every time they neared the shore and could hear the fans cheering them on.
The City will play host to the next stage of the America’s Cup World Series on Oct. 2-7.