At long last, today was the absolute final race in the 2013 America's Cup, and Oracle Team USA won a stunning comeback over Emirate Team New Zealand to retain the prestigious yachting trophy. Down eight races-to-one in the first-to-nine series, the American team built by Silicon Valley tycoon Larry Ellison, won an unprecedented eight races to successfully defend the Cup. What does that mean? Let's walk through it.
Every three years the world's richest men fund teams to compete in the world's most revered sport: yachting. This year's competition had it all: controversy, cheating, and a stunning comeback. The winning team gets to choose the rules for the next America's Cup, and Ellison caught some criticism for the changes he made. Grantland's Katie Baker has a good run down of what this year's Cup was like during the heart of the competition, but the most important change was to use super expensive, super advanced catamarans, called the AC72. Because of this decision, only three four teams could afford to compete this year: Oracle Team USA, Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing (from Sweden) and Luna Rosa Challenge 2013 (from Italy). The new boats are also fast, furious, and very dangerous: an Olympic gold medalist from Artemis Racing died earlier this year after one capsized during training.
But, like we said, you can't get a bunch of rich guys competing in the same room without one team looking to get an edge. Prior to the Cup, Ellison's boat was caught cheating in a qualifying race and docked two points that would come back to haunt them.
There's only one way to win the America's Cup: the first team to nine points takes home the trophy, the bragging rights, and the right to set the terms for the next one. New Zealand stormed their way to a eight-to-one lead, but Team USA has rallied back to tie it at eight points. Had they not been caught cheating, the Cup would have been in Ellison's hands already.