15 Feb 2010

BMW Oracle wins America's Cup

7:26 am on 15 February 2010

U.S. challengers BMW Oracle have won the 33rd America's Cup beating Swiss holders Alinghi in the second race to claim the best-of-three series 2-nil in a triumph of superior design and technology.

Software mogul Larry Ellison's giant trimaran, featuring a towering wing-shaped sail, beat Alinghi by more than a kilometre in the second race off the Spanish port of Valencia.

Ellison, an accomplished ocean racer who had never made it to an America's Cup match before, proudly steered his space-age boat back to port as night fell, hugging and congratulating his crew members.

Ellison's BMW Oracle team was beaten by Alinghi, backed by banking and biotechnology billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, in the final of the 2003 challengers series for the America's Cup, which the Swiss went on to win from holders New Zealand.

The 2010 event came after more than two years of often bitter legal wrangles between Ellison and Bertarelli over America's Cup rules, battles which sometimes spilled over into sniping between the teams.

Alinghi had been flying a protest flag during the race, meaning the result was provisional until the complaint was heard. An Alinghi spokesman said later it had been withdrawn.

An American team had not won sailing's oldest and most prestigious prize since Bill Koch's America3 beat Italians Il Moro de Venezia in 1992.

It was a convincing victory for Ellison's boat, a unique trimaran featuring a revolutionary wing-shaped mast and mainsail configuration the height of a 20-storey building.

Alinghi, with Bertarelli at the helm, finished 5 mins 26 seconds behind BMW Oracle after a miserable race.

Bertarelli's team made an error in pre-start manoeuvres, earning a penalty which had to be executed before they could finish.

The Swiss catamaran made up good ground to lead on the first leg of the 39-nautical mile race but were then blown off the water by BMW Oracle's superior speed.

The carbon fibre and kevlar American boat hit speeds of up to 33 knots, incredibly more than four times the speed of the wind, as it surged away on the second leg to lead by more than 2,100 metres.