SAN FRANCISCO, California - Oracle Team USA sailed to an unprecedented sixth consecutive America's Cup victory yesterday, extending an epic comeback and again denying Emirates Team New Zealand a trophy-clinching triumph.
The Americans won by 27 seconds for their ninth win in 17 races, which would have been enough to have retained the Cup had the US team not been docked two points for pre-regatta violations.
As it stands, the defending champions still trail 8-7 and need two more wins to hang on to the Cup, while the Kiwis require just one to take the coveted prize home to New Zealand, just as they have for a week.
New Zealand have won eight races but have been on match point since September 18.
Only three times before in Cup history had a boat won five races in a row, but those were in best-of-nine regattas where none had a chance to stretch the streak as long as Oracle Team USA has this month.
The Kiwis drew a pair of penalties at the start of race 17, crowding the Americans as they fiercely vied for positions.
"New Zealand was supposed to do everything it could to stay clear and it didn't," the Cup's chief umpire explained. "Two penalties were assessed."
The USA were given a head start and rounded the first mark well ahead of the Kiwis.
The Americans blazed along the second leg, with speeds topping 80km/h, and rounded the second gate 29 seconds ahead of the Kiwis.
New Zealand pressed hard on the tail of the American team, which manoeuvred to block opportunities to pass.
The Kiwis narrowed the gap through the critical upwind leg, as both catamarans also sailed against the tide, but the Americans held on to cross the finish 27 seconds ahead of New Zealand.