Oracle Team USA Fans Celebrate Comeback Victory at America's Cup

Tens of thousands watched a historic comeback win for Oracle Team USA on the San Francisco waterfront during the final race in the America's Cup Finals on Wednesday.

Oracle triumphed over challenger Emirates Team New Zealand, defending the U.S. title.

When the 19th race of the finals began at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oracle and New Zealand were tied 8-8.

Oracle had trailed by a margin of 8-1 last week, but its surprise winning streak of eight consecutive wins had tied up the regatta and forced Wednesday's winner-take-all face-off. Both teams needed nine points to win the cup.

The Oracle team started the finals with a two-point deficit after being penalized for illegal boat modifications during earlier exhibition races, making the comeback all the more stunning.

At the award ceremony at America's Cup Park at Piers 27/29 after the Oracle victory, former mayor and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom congratulated the two teams and praised the city for hosting the regatta.

"This is the most fan-friendly America's Cup in history," Newsom said.

He thanked the massive crowd, estimated to have reached 25,000 at the waterfront venue, for "being part of history."

Mayor Ed Lee, wearing a blue Oracle Team USA hat, cheered for the triumphant team.

"This is what sports is all about," he said, adding he was proud of the competitors on both teams.

New Zealand skipper Dean Barker told the crowd he was disappointed but said Oracle was a tough competitor that brought an "unbelievable finale."

He recognized his fans, whom he called "our most loyal group of supporters here in San Francisco and around the world."

The coveted silver Cup was then presented to the Oracle crew, with the crowd chanting "USA!"

The team's skipper, Jimmy Spithill, said his crew worked hard for the so-called improbable outcome and that the fans' support carried them to the finish line.

"We dug out of a big hole," he said. "This is a team that never gives up."

The finals lasted longer than anticipated because of Oracle's comeback and mercurial wind conditions on the water, which resulted in some races being postponed.

There have been only two other neck-and-neck races such this one in the 162-year history of the America's Cup, in 1920 and 1983, according to race officials.

With the Americans defending the Cup, the next race in 2016 will stay in the U.S.

Festivities continued Wednesday night with a Lumineers concert at the America's Cup Pavilion at Piers 27/29.

The America's Cup concert series will continue with the Avett Brothers performing on Oct. 12.

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