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

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    The sailors who race the America's Cup

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

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    Seeing San Francisco by sailboat

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

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    America's Cup trophy on display

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"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.