Spectators cheer at Pier 27 after Oracle Team USA won the fourth race of the America's Cup sailing event against Emirates Team New Zealand Sept. 8 in San Francisco. / Eric Risberg, AP
SAN FRANCISCO - Thousands of spectators gathered on the shores of San Francisco Bay early Wednesday, where they scrambled for vantage points to watch Oracle Team USA capture the America's Cup in one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
The winner-take-all race against challenger Emirates Team New Zealand sent roars of jubilation among the race crowd after Team USA captured sailing's most prestigious and best known race.
"You couldn't have written a better comeback story," says Jason Deitch, 44, from nearby Mill Valley, Calif., who cheered from shore on Marina Green. The social media consultant predicts a big impact from Oracle's huge win.
"I think we are seeing the emergence of a new sport for Americans to cheer about," he says. "It's technology meets tradition. There will be a lot more commercial interest, too.''
Oracle Team USA came back from an 8-to-1 deficit to win nine straight races. Backed by Silicon Valley software billionaire Larry Ellison, Team Oracle tied the series at 8-8 Tuesday when its sleek 72-foot catamaran and its 11-man crew won two races.
The champagne flowed Wednesday at one of Oracle's multiple lounges overlooking the race course.
At Pier 27, the race official venue and site of multiple viewing platforms, fans roared their approval.
"That was exhilarating," said Jim Watts, 67, of San Antonio, Texas. "We came from seven races down and won. It's unheard of!"
Gina Von Esmarch, 45, pulled her 12-year old daughter Gabriella out of school to watch."It's a historic occasion. How many times are you going to see this in your life?" said the San Rafael resident.
A beaming Colleen Cassity watched Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill complement his crew. "My office will be a lot happier place thanks to this," said Cassity, who manages Oracle's philanthropy programs. "But seriously, I'm thrilled to see it end on this note. The team fought with a lot of heart."
Cassity, an amateur pilot, said she found herself increasingly riveted by sailing as the event unfolded. "The technology is amazing," she said. "I think we all have come along with our knowledge of this sport in the past weeks."
Fans began staking out prime viewing positions early Wednesday.
Sam Hansen was among thousands watching the race on Marina Green after grabbing a 6 a.m. flight from Phoenix.
"I've been watching America's Cup since 1983, and I really wanted to come to San Francisco this morning,'' he said.
The appeal? "The best technology and the best sailors in the world coming together,'' said Hansen, sporting an America's Cup baseball cap.
A newer sailing buff, Ron Lighten, drove in from the San Joaquin Valley town of Modesto, about 1½ hours away.
"I was here earlier watching the Emirates team bully everyone on the water. I was sure they were going to win this thing,'' Lighten said. He decided to see the final race "because they'll be talking about this 100 years from now. This is history.'
"I grew up in the 'hood, and my love is football,'' Lighten said. "But now, I'm here with millionaires and enjoying sailing."
Chip Worthington, a pastor from Sonoma County's Rohnert Park, isn't a sailing buff, but the 67-year-old drove in to be part of today's event.
"This is an historic event,'' Worthington said as he raised a pair of binoculars. "There's (Team Oracle's) comeback. But it's also here in San Francisco, and you'll never find a more beautiful venue for sailing."
Chicagoan Cameron Skye Biddle, in San Francisco for Oracle's five-day conference OpenWorld corporate conference, decided he'd take a break to see the last race. After all, Ellison, Oracle's CEO, "caused a stir yesterday by not showing up to his keynote speech, and half the crowd left," Biddle said.
Biddle is an avid sailor. "This is a big deal, especially the fact that the event is in the U.S," says the systems administrator. "Some of my sailing buddies won't believe I was here for this."
Clearly,though, the crowd was not entirely behind Team Oracle.
"We're Scottish. We always go for the under dog,'' said Alan Forgan, from Cooper, Scotland.
Forgan's brother, Eric, and other family members from Warwick, England watched the race from San Francisco's famed Fisherman's Wharf.
"It's only because they have an English coach that the U. S. team is winning now, you know," said Eric Forgan. "Of course were rooting for New Zealand."
Boating aficionado Kay Cavallero, a surgical nurse in nearby Sunnyvale, took in the race on her day off. Wednesday's win could help gain more American fans, she said.
"I do think it'll catch on, she said. "The comeback made everyone talk about (the Cup), even people you'd never expect to."
As Connor Duncan was taking in the scene at Marina Green, the smile on his face reflected the local entrepreneur's sense of satisfaction at Oracle's success. But he had some concerns about sailing appealing to a broader base of American sports fans.
"When you make it a race this can be a great spectator sport," he says. "But it almost wasn't a race when New Zealand went out front and it wasn't really a race when we stormed back. So maybe there's a way of keeping things simpler to make it more dramatic."
Still, Duncan was well aware that history had been made. "When was the last time you saw an 8 to 1 comeback?" he said. "It's pretty astonishing."
Della Cava and Weise reported from San Francisco.
Copyright 2013 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: America's Cup: Do you believe in miracles?