HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) - Jimmy Spithill skippered Oracle Team USA to its first victory in the 35th America's Cup on Saturday, taking a thriller in Race 6 on the Great Sound to slow Emirates Team New Zealand's momentum.
Spithill's fightback in San Francisco in 2013 ranks as one of the biggest ever sporting reversals, overturning an 8-1 New Zealand lead to win the "Auld Mug" by 9-8.
Sailing - America's Cup finals - Hamilton, Bermuda - June 24, 2017 - Oracle Team USA win over Emirates Team New Zealand in race six of America's Cup finals.
It's no bother to Spithill that Team USA merely cut Team New Zealand's lead in the first-to-seven regatta to 4-1.
But Oracle and skipper Jimmy Spithill were penalized for a port-starboard infraction and had to drop two lengths back.
Even after losing two races on Sunday, Spithill was not in any mood to give up, conceding that the US crew had been outsailed by Burling and his five Kiwi team mates, but vowing to come out fighting again on Monday and take one race at a time.
Things started badly on Saturday for the United States team as they were a fraction of a second over the line at the start of the first race, picking up a penalty which left them trailing.
"Now we've got confidence", the 37-year-old Spithill said.
Oracle's plan is to continue learning lessons, come back stronger and take it one race at a time knowing they have beaten the Kiwis once in the Match so far.
The America's Cup, the oldest competition in global sport, was first raced in 1851 around the Isle of Wight and has only been won by four nations.
After defending in 2000, Coutts jumped ship to Alinghi and led a five-race sweep of Team New Zealand.
"I still see myself as steering the boat ..."
Earlier, Team NZ steadied the nerves, after the Americans captured their first victory yesterday.
"It was great to see those boys actually sailing a little bit better ... these guys just sailed well and we're just excited about the battle ahead", New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said following the rare defeat. "Anything can happen and we are just going to keep focussing on what we can focus on, you know...sailing the boat well, keep pushing hard and just take tomorrow as it comes". Campbell, an Olympian, joined the team after watching them win in San Francisco. Near the top of the course, it was still very close, with a split at the gate and a 12-second lead to Spithill.
It was clearly a must-win situation for Oracle Team USA.
Their "cyclors", including an Olympic cycling medallist, have kept their heads down throughout the contest, pedalling furiously to provide enough oil in the system to allow the boat to perform nearly balletic pirouette manoeuvres on the water.