America's Cup comeback: Ben Ainslie helps Oracle Team USA draw level with New Zealand challenger in San Francisco
As comebacks go, this is worthy of the best scriptwriters down the coast in tinsel town
By over a kilometre, New Zealand's challenge for the America's Cup took a hammering on San Francisco Bay as they saw the America's Cup defender Oracle Team USA draw level at 8-8 after seven straight wins in what should have been a best of 17.
As comebacks go, this is worthy of the best scriptwriters down the coast in tinsel town and is testimony to the work of the Oracle design and shore team, which has worked round the clock to improve the performance of its 72-foot wing-powered catamaran Add to that the cool tactical thinking of Britain's Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie, as tactician, and his brother in arms, Australian Olympic gold medallist Tom Slingsby, as strategist.
If the Americans had not been penalised by two points for violating race rules they would have reached the magic nine after winning the first race of the day.
Once again Kiwi skipper Dean Barker was beaten off the start line and his rival Jimmy Spithill led from start to finish. To make matters worse the New Zealanders had to take two penalties as they were suckered into two collisions as Oracle barged them just ahead of the start.
Race two of the day, staged in perfect 20-knot conditions, saw Barker at last grab the advantage at the start and lead for the first two legs only to see Spithill pounce again as, early on the upwind leg, New Zealand tried to plant a blocking measure on the Americans only to see them roll over the top and control the race from there on.
The Americans have won seven consecutive races, have everything going their way, and are in psychological control of a team that seems to have choked badly after being 7-1 ahead.
Ben Ainslie in San Francisco at the America's Cup
The boats still seem about even, though they are both very sensitive to any changes in wind strength. And New Zealand had the all-important ninth win in their grasp when leading in a race that was abandoned as the 40-minute time limit ran out.
Now it is pistols at lunchtime, winner takes all on Wednesday, assuming there is not too much wind again. The forecast is cautious. The Americans are rampant. The Kiwis are in as much trouble as they ever want to be.
Latest in Sport
Barbarians vs Samoa interrupted by sprinklers as fans criticise lack of Wi-Fi and poor seating at West Ham's Olympic Stadium
Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger 'optimistic' of making signing, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Edinson Cavani linked
Liverpool vs West Ham match report: Philippe Coutinho sent-off as woeful Reds thrashed with goals by Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble and Diafra Sakho
Chelsea 1 Crystal Palace 2: Jose Mourinho uses forward Kenedy at left-back as frustration with Chelsea defence grows
Chelsea 1 Crystal Palace 2: Blues' Twitter account jumps the gun, seconds before Joel Ward goal seals Eagles' victory
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 4 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics