Larry Ellison glows under shine of America's Cup

Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:40pm EDT
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By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - For Larry Ellison, the only thing better than winning the America's Cup is winning it against all odds.

Ellison's Oracle Team USA was within an inch of losing the world's oldest international sporting trophy to Emirates Team New Zealand just a week ago, only to come back on Thursday with the eighth straight race it needed to retain the Cup.

The epic battle over the past few days has been a major vindication of the Silicon Valley entrepreneur's much-maligned vision of how to modernize the competition.

For months ahead of September's 34th America's Cup finals, Ellison, known for his brash personality and aggressive business tactics, weathered near-constant criticism over the cost, complexity and potential dangers of the 72-foot catamarans he chose for the event.

Only three teams ultimately challenged Oracle, and a British sailor was killed when the Swedish team's AC72 broke apart and capsized in May.

"There was a lot of criticism about these boats," Ellison told reporters on Thursday. "I thought that rather than me personally responding, it would be up to the guys ultimately to show what these boats are like on the water. Let the regatta get started and let the people judge."

And spectators ultimately ruled in Ellison's favor, partly because he brought the regatta, historically held miles out to sea, into San Francisco Bay where strolling tourists and die-hard sailing aficionados could watch the races up close.

"This regatta has changed sailing forever," he beamed at a news conference, flanked by Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill and the 162-year-old trophy.   Continued...

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison lifts the America's Cup with members of the Oracle Team USA after winning the overall title of the 34th America's Cup yacht sailing race over Emirates Team New Zealand in San Francisco, California September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith