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America's Cup win was 'one hell of a comeback,' says team skipper 

Sep. 26, 2013 at 8:52 AM ET

Video: The team members who pulled off an amazing comeback against New Zealand to win America’s cup tell TODAY that the comeback was one of “epic proportions.”

The odds against them were astronomical, but that’s when the Oracle Team USA got to work. Relying on their history of thriving under high pressure, the team clinched the America’s Cup “in one hell of a comeback” after rallying from an 8-1 deficit, the team skipper said Thursday.

“We’ve faced a lot of adversity in the past and I really felt like that prepared us for this but, man, we knew it was going to be a fight in the water, but we never really thought it would be these sort of epic proportions," Jimmy Spithill told TODAY’s Matt Lauer." So yeah, one hell of a comeback from the guys.”

Spithill lead a team that fended off challengers in the San Francisco Bay in one of the most memorable comebacks in yachting history. Oracle Team USA also had to overcome penalties it incurred during preliminary regattas in 2012.

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Oracle Team USA celebrates defeating Emirates Team New Zealand in the 34th America's Cup on September 25, 2013, in San Francisco. Oracle Team...
NOAH BERGER / AFP - Getty Images
Oracle Team USA celebrates defeating Emirates Team New Zealand in the 34th America's Cup on Sept. 25, 2013, in San Francisco.

Spithill said those obstacles only made his teammates stronger.

Video: Watch the full race replay 

“Psychologically, this team, the people involved in this team, seem to do better when they’re at that super high-pressure situation. At match point, when they’re facing a barrel of a gun, we just refused to die and we refused to go away,” he said.

The American victory Wednesday drew worldwide attention, in part, because of the team’s spectacular 72-foot foiling catamaran and the amazing speed it flashed in every race it won.

Spithill described modifications made to the boat throughout the process as “somewhat Formula One – you make small changes.” But he maintained that the remarkable looking vessel is not unusual in an era where modern technology dominates the competition.

“It’s not the Flinstone generation, it’s the Facebook generation. This isn’t your grandfather’s America’s cup, this is like the X Games on water,” he said. “Man, these boats are very, very physical. Lot of risk versus reward. Look, sailing on San Francisco Bay – it does not get any better than that.”

The America’s Cup is the most prestigious and oldest trophy in sport, dating back to 1851 with an American victory. The United States successfully defended the cup for the next 132 years until Australia took it in 1983. It has changed hands several times since then.

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