Sep 25 2013
Skipper Jimmy Spithill insists his Oracle Team USA are still the underdogs despite recording their sixth and seventh straight wins to take the America's Cup to a decider against Emirates Team New Zealand.
The defending champions are on the brink of one of the greatest comebacks of all time after levelling the competition at 8-8 in San Francisco Bay, having been 8-1 down after the 11th race.
Oracle have won 10 races but were penalised two points by the international jury before the regatta began due to modifications made to their AC45 yachts in 2012.
Spithill's team, with Sir Ben Ainslie as the tactician, have battled back magnificently and won race 17 by 27 seconds and race 18 by 54 seconds to set up a winner-take-all finale on Wednesday evening.
Yet, despite Oracle taking all the momentum into the final race, Spithill is keeping his feet on the ground.
"I think we are the underdog and I'm going to keep running with that and use that energy," said Spithill on the official America's Cup website.
"The exciting thing for me is seeing how this team has gelled together. Sometimes you need to face that barrel of the gun to come together. You can get wobbly in the knees or you can look into the barrel. Every day we've managed to step it up more."
Only twice before in the 162-year history of the competition has there been a winner-take-all race, in 1920 and 1983 respectively.
Ainslie, however, will not be thinking of the magnitude of the finale.
"You just have to approach it like every other race," said the four-time Olympic gold medallist.
"You really have to go out and go through the same preparations with the boat, the maintenance, in the morning meetings, and with the pre-start warm-up. And of course, like every other race, the guys will give it everything all the way to the finish."
Team New Zealand have been on match point for the last seven races, but despite their failure to take their chances so far, skipper Dean Barker is still optimistic they can break Oracle's hearts.
"We do believe we can win, we've known we can win this thing for a long time," said Barker.
"It's one thing to talk about it and another thing to do it. We have to do everything right and sail as well as we can.
"We're going to prepare as we have been and we have confidence we can win this. No one's slightly head down or lacking in confidence. We know if we put the pieces together we'll be successful."