SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle Team USA’s heart-stopping victory in Race 4 of the America’s Cup on Sunday may have saved the event as well as the syndicate’s chances to retain the oldest trophy in international sports.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill aggressively sailed Oracle’s 72-foot catamaran to an eight-second victory against Emirates Team New Zealand in the fog, wind, and salt spray on San Francisco Bay.
Monday was a lay day. Oracle, which needs to win 10 more races to defend, was out on the bay working on improving its performance upwind, where the Kiwis have shown better boat speed. Races 5 and 6 are scheduled for Tuesday.
Oracle Team USA, owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., hopes the Race 4 victory helps swing the momentum.
One of those things is home-water advantage. The finish line of the five-leg course is just a few hundred yards off America’s Cup Park on Pier 27-29 on the Embarcadero. The end of the pier is packed with flag-waving fans on race days. On Saturday, police closed off access to the area when the crowd reached about 3,500.
Spithill wants the fans to know that the sailors can hear them cheering as the races end and the boats fly across the line on their hydrofoils.
‘‘There’s something about the home-court advantage, and it’s very hard to put a value on, but it makes a difference,’’ said Spithill, an Australian who lives in San Diego with his American wife and their two young boys.
‘‘The more people we can get behind us, the more good energy they can send our way. It affects the guys on board and it lifts them. We want to keep the Cup here. We want to keep it on the bay. These guys don't,’’ he said, referring to skipper Dean Barker and the Kiwis.