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Analysis: USA's thrilling comeback to beat New Zealand in America's Cup a shot-in-the-arm for sailing


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Analysis: USA's thrilling comeback to beat New Zealand in America's Cup a shot-in-the-arm for sailing

Oracle Team USA’s remarkable America’s Cup comeback, hailed as one of the best in sporting history, will bring hopes that it has helped boost sailing’s popularity.

After racing out of the blocks into an 8-1 lead, Emirates Team New Zealand looked odds-on favourites to win the 34th America’s Cup.

They needed just one more victory to triumph in the best of 17 contest, which they last won in 2003.

But incredibly the US powered back with eight successive wins to take the cup 9-8.

That thrilling comeback might just have drawn a new generation of enthusiasts to sailing.

It was also a vindication of Oracle owner Larry Ellison’s controversial decision to transform a once-staid yachting event into a TV-friendly, extreme-sports spectacle.

Fans who flocked to the San Francisco bayfront by the tens of thousands for the final races were treated to a little bit of everything: tense on-the-water duels, a near-capsize, winds that were alternately too light and too strong, and even a whale that threatened to disrupt racing.

Meanwhile Emirates Team New Zealand, a plucky challenger that lacked a billionaire sponsor but nonetheless sailed to the brink of victory, must now endure the ignominy of having let the prize slip from its grasp after a grueling two-year campaign of boat development and training that unfolded almost exactly as planned until the final days.

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