the greatest comeback in the history of the competition, the 2013 America’s Cup comes down to one winner-take-all race today.
It’s on TV at 4 p.m. eastern on NBC Sports Network. You should watch, even if you have no idea how sailing works.
Here’s everything you need to know.
There are two teams: Oracle Team USA (owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison) and Emirates Team New Zealand. The America’s Cup is held every three years, kind of like the World Cup for yachting.
How do you win?
The first team to win nine races wins the Cup. New Zealand was up 8-1 and Oracle made a crazy comeback. It’s now 8-8, so whichever team wins today wins it all.
GO USA, right?
No. It actually has nothing to do with nationality. The skipper of “Team USA” is Australian and the manager is a Kiwi. There’s only one American on the 11-man crew. All things considered, you should actually probably be rooting for the New Zealand team.
Why should I be rooting for New Zealand?
First of all, Larry Ellison basically priced the competition out of the race by making everyone use a crazy-expensive, space-age catamaran called the AC72. Thirteen teams initially wanted to challenge Oracle, but all but three teams withdrew before the qualifying competition started.
So Larry Ellison can just go around changing rules?
The team that wins the America’s Cup gets to make the rules for the next one. Ellison won in 2010, so he made a whole bunch of changes.
Some of them were for the better: He moved the race off the high seas and into the fan-friendly San Francisco Bay. He shortened the races from the hours-long snoozefests they used to be the quick 25-minute sprints. He made the format first-to-nine instead of first-to-five.
But choosing an expensive, hard-to-use really infuriated the yachting world. The New Zealand team almost capsized during a race last week:
Those things looks dangerous.
They are. In May a sailor died after Artemis Racing — one of the three challengers — capsized an AC72 during a practice run.
Any other controversies I should know about?
Yeah, Team Oracle was involved in the biggest cheating scandal in the history of the sport before the competition began. They were fined $US250,000 and docked two points in the America’s Cup after they were found guilty of adding illegal weights to the boat during a warmup race in 2012.
So while the score is 8-8, Oracle has actually won 10 races already. If they didn’t cheat they would have already won the Cup.
How did New Zealand get into the race?
There was a competition between three challengers (New Zealand, Spain, Italy) called the Louis Vuitton Cup back in July.
New Zealand won.
How does the race work?
The course consists of five legs, which are separated by “marks” — basically checkpoints. The different legs involve different wind types and test the skills of the respective teams. The two boats go off at the same time and whoever finishes first wins.
It looks like this:
What if it’s not windy?
There’s a 40-minute time limit on the race. If the wind is so weak that it takes longer than 40 minutes, the race is postponed. New Zealand was actually one nautical mile away from winning their ninth race when the time limit was reached.
How do I watch it on television?
It’s on NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m.
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