Even with its massive and crazy-fast sailboats looming over and zipping by the San Francisco shore, the 2013 America’s Cup started off pretty boring. Emirates Team New Zealand was up six races to one, and then 8-3. But, really, it was two fewer than that for Oracle Team USA, which was docked two races for cheating in the preliminaries.
ACEA/Photo Gilles Martin-Raget
The gigantic fancy viewing park built on the San Francisco shoreline was much less than full, and the prevailing sentiment was that the whole thing was an expensive and dangerous bust. For days, New Zealand was just one win away from ending it all, which would have meant an embarrassing and very personal loss for USA team owner, defending America’s Cup champion, and stakes-raising event host Larry Ellison, the CEO of enterprise software giant Oracle. (As much fun as it can be to root for the home team, I don’t think I’m the only American sports fan that was turned off by the whole fiasco.)
Ellison had famously been quoted as saying, when asked if it was worth $100 million to win the America’s Cup, “It’s not worth $100 million to lose it.”
But then the U.S. started winning. All told, seven in a row! Somehow, the universe bowed to Ellison’s will, and the weather and long list of race rules conspired to favor the Americans over and over again. The wind was too strong to race, the wind was in the wrong direction. The competition stretched another day. At one point, a match was called off, shortly before New Zealand would have won, because the wind was too weak to finish within the time limit. Turns out there’s a rule about that, too.
Yesterday, backs still up against the wall, Oracle Team USA won two more races. Ellison skipped out on delivering the keynote at his own conference, Oracle OpenWorld, one of the other biggest events of the year in San Francisco. Somehow, his speech was scheduled at the same time in the afternoon as the second race (to be fair, it was also the second of his two OpenWorld keynotes). Attendees reportedly flooded out of the event when they heard Ellison was a no-show.
So today is the day. Oracle Team USA has won 10 races to Emirates Team New Zealand’s eight. With the two-race penalty, they are tied. The final race is winner-take-all. There is no keynote scheduled; Ellison will be watching from his chase boat. Wind willing, it starts at 1:15 pm PT, free of charge on the San Francisco shoreline, streaming live on YouTube, and on NBC, too.