America's Cup: Miracle on Water still a possibility as U.S. ties series 8-8

New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, left, has seen his team's lead at the America's Cup dissipate.

Story highlights

  • Oracle Team USA wins both races at the America's Cup Tuesday to tie series 8-8
  • Emirates Team New Zealand had led 8-1 against the defending champion
  • The decider in yachting's most prestigious competition takes place Wednesday
  • Team USA was docked two wins because it was ruled to have illegally altered its boat

You've heard of the Miracle on Ice?

Are we in for the Miracle on Water?

Maybe, because Oracle Team USA can still win the America's Cup.

Trailing 8-1 in yachting's most prestigious competition, the defending champion tied the series 8-8 Tuesday in San Francisco Bay to set up likely the most exciting finish in the 162-year history of the event.

The one-race decider takes place Wednesday.

Read: New Zealanders on the ropes

"It's the most exciting day of all of our lives and we wouldn't want to be anywhere else," Oracle's Australian skipper, Jimmy Spithill, said in a televised interview. "We're up for anything.

"Any conditions are good for us. We're just looking forward to getting onto the race track and having one heck of a fight."

Read: Cup now a 'new-age speedster' event

Oracle Team USA, bankrolled by billionaire Larry Ellison, won the first race Tuesday by 27 seconds and then rallied to claim the second by a whopping 54 to leave Emirates Team New Zealand stunned.

The sailors who race the America's Cup
The sailors who race the America's Cup

    JUST WATCHED

    The sailors who race the America's Cup

MUST WATCH

The sailors who race the America's Cup 03:06
Seeing San Francisco by sailboat
Seeing San Francisco by sailboat

    JUST WATCHED

    Seeing San Francisco by sailboat

MUST WATCH

Seeing San Francisco by sailboat 02:16
America's Cup trophy on display
America's Cup trophy on display

    JUST WATCHED

    America's Cup trophy on display

MUST WATCH

America's Cup trophy on display 02:41

"The boys just out-ground the other team," said Spithill. "Very, very impressive and it gives us a lot of confidence heading into tomorrow.

"We've really improved the boat. The boat is going fantastic."

They were actually the 17th and 18th races of the series but two victories for the U.S. were scratched off because it was deemed to have illegally tinkered with its boat prior to the finale.

Had the penalty not been imposed, Oracle Team USA would have retained the Cup following Tuesday's opener.

Three crew members of Oracle Team USA were also banned, which contributed to falling behind New Zealand early.

Boosting the comeback has been Spithill's decision to insert multiple Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie as tactician in favor of John Kostecki.

Despite losing Tuesday's first race, New Zealand skipper Dean Barker opted against using his postponement card that would have delayed the 18th race until Wednesday.

"We're here to race," Barker said.

        MainSail

      • Wide shot of a sailboat from a drone

        Drones offer new angle on superyachts

        "Sometimes, I fly the drone with my head in a trash bag so I don't get salt spray from the sea on my equipment," says drone operator Justice L Bentz.
      • Dave Swete and Nick Dana on the bow of Alvimedica for a windy downwind sail change during the team's second trans-Atlantic training session, this time from Newport, Rhode Island, USA, to Southampton, England

        Disney duo's new 'fairytale story'

        Navigate the world's most treacherous seas, crossing 73,000 nautical kilometers in a confined space with stressed-out, sleep-deprived crewmates. 
      • The Triton Submarine.

        Millionaire water toys

        Personal submarines, jetpacks, even 'walking boats.'
        Why the Monaco Yacht Show is a bit like stumbling upon James Bond's secret gadget lab.
      • London's new superyacht hotel, in Royal Victoria Docks.

        Inside $67M superyacht hotel

        London's new superyacht hotel is so enormous, authorities had to lower the water level by five meters just to fit it under a bridge.
      • Thomson hurtles up to the top of the mast aware that the boat can keel at any moment and fling him either onto the deck or the water below

        What next for sailing's daredevil?

        His mast-walking stunts have attracted over 3.5 million hits on YouTube, but Alex Thomson just wants to get back to doing what he does best.
      • Endeavour, a 1934 J-Class yacht, racing during The America's Cup Anniversary Jubilee around The Isle of Wight 21 August 2001. The four entries in the J-Class category represent the oldest remaining class used in America's Cup competition. Over 200 boats, including vintage yachts are taking part in the America's Cup Jubilee to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first America's Cup race in 1851. AFP PHOTO Adrian DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

        Through hell and high water

        Elizabeth Meyer talks to CNN's Mainsail about the "Armageddon battle" to restore the pioneering J-class boat Endeavour.
      • Specatators use a boat to watch as boat crews race on the River Thames at the Henley Royal Regatta on July 2, 2014 in Henley-on-Thames, England. Opening today and celebrating its 175th year, the Henley Royal Regatta is regarded as part of the English social season and is held annually over five days on the River Thames. Thousands of rowing fans are expected to come to watch races which are head-to-head knock out competitions, raced over a course of 1 mile, 550 yards (2,112 m) which regularly attracts international crews to race. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

        'Downton Abbey' on the water

        Like "Downton Abbey," Henley's Royal Regatta reminds its visitors of an England of old. But for how much longer?
      • LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 10: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge poses next to the America's Cup as she visits the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich for the Ben Ainslie America's Cup Launch on June 10, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

        Britain's $134M secret weapon?

        Can a $134 million budget and the royal seal of approval bring the coveted America's Cup back to British shores for the first time in sailing history?
      • Eyos Expeditions offers superyacht journeys to the most remote places on Earth.

        Yachting to the ends of the Earth

        Bored of lounging on your superyacht in the Mediterranean? An increasing number of millionaires are now sailing their luxury vessels to the ends of the Earth, to get their kicks.