FOUR-TIME Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie inspired one of the most remarkable sporting comebacks ever last night as Oracle Team USA recovered from 8-1 down to win the America’s Cup 9-8 in the final race against Team New Zealand.
For only the third time in the regatta’s 162-year history a decider was required after the Kiwi’s snatched defeat from the jaws of victory having previously been in complete control, chasing the elusive win to get over the line since last Wednesday.
But a 44-second defeat in the winner-takes-all race in San Francisco ensured Team New Zealand’s wait for a first America’s Cup win since 2000 continued.
Ainslie, the most successful sailor in Olympic history, was keen to add an America’s Cup victory to his C.V. following his decision not to compete in the next Games in Rio in 2016.
And such was the 36-year-old’s determination to win one of the world’s longest running sporting events he took the reins as Oracle’s tactician after they went 4-1 down and proved instrumental in their resurgence.
“We wouldn’t have had it any other way,” said triumphant skipper Jimmy Spithill.
“To come from behind, our guys showed so much heart.
“It really is about the team. I am so proud of the boys. We were looking down the barrel of a gun.
“Oh man, what a race.”
■ Ryder Cup, 2012: Europe overturn 10-6 deficit on final day to stun hosts America in the Miracle at Medinah
■ Grand National, 1973: Red Rum cements greatness by making up 30 lengths to overhaul favourite Crisp
■ Ashes, 1981: Sir Ian Botham’s 149 not out and 8-43 from Bob Willis sweep England to a 500-1-shot win and mark turning point in series