I know I didn’t. At least it wasn’t until leg three of yesterday’s last race of the day at the America’s Cup that I thought there was a better than 50 percent chance Oracle would win the America’s Cup. Today I wrote a live blog for the New York Times for it’s online race coverage. It was running on the front page of their website during the race and that whole time I couldn’t help think about the Achilles  heel of all athletes. When you have such a big lead in a series, one or two losses don’t dent the armor, unless there are signs of strengthening.

Oracle Team USA retains the America's Cup 9/25/13

Oracle Team USA retains the America’s Cup 9/25/13

When your opponent is getting better with each exchange, it’s human nature to question your abilities. That psychology combined with a true increase in boat speed and more precise tactics put Dean Barker and Team New Zealand squarely on the back foot even when they were at match point. Last week I raced in my eighth US Match Race Championships in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. I have been on match point in many finals only to have two losses derail our minds and adding a psychological hurdle we would have rather avoided. Strange as it may sound, this is real in match racing when each race is never over until it’s over. As Jimmy Spithill of oracle said when he was down 7-1, “Stranger things have happened.”

The more delays and abandoned races last week only gave Oracle more time to develop their crew and boat and become stronger psychologically.

Russell Coutts

Russell Coutts

In the end, it seems New Zealand’s boat had reached it’s peak performance early in the series and Oracle’s boat turned out to be a superior design once refined. It was a race against time, in hindsight, from when Spithill’s first boat broke to pieces outside the Golden Gate Bridge. Russell Coutts, the team’s CEO seemed to have known that at the time, that they would need every minute, and every break to win this Cup. It was a master stroke by Coutts to secure five-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie for the team before his last Olympic campaign was even over. See how the final boat and personnel development ended up and again I say, Coutts must have known, that all that, and some serious faith and crew spirit, would be needed to keep the America’s Cup in America.

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