VALENCIA, Spain — Larry Ellison's space-age trimaran BMW Oracle won back the America's Cup for the United States by speeding across the Mediterranean to rout two-time defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland for a two-race sweep.
The 65-year-old software tycoon was onboard his incredibly speedy craft on Sunday, after sitting out Race 1 due to a weight limit.
Ellison's victory over wealthy rival Ernesto Bertarelli sends the oldest trophy in international sports to San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club.
The two billionaires have been locked in a tumultuous legal fight for 2 years, and it looked for a while like the result of this race was going to be contested off the water.
Alinghi raised a red protest flag on its giant catamaran late on the first leg of the triangle course, leaving everyone wondering what it was about since there's no communications off the boats.
The Swiss dropped the protest after the race, confirming Ellison's win.
Ellison called it an "absolutely awesome feeling" to win the Cup. "I'm very proud to be a part of this team."
The America's Cup has been away from U.S. shores for 15 years, the longest drought since America won the silver trophy by beating a fleet of British ships around the Isle of Wight in 1851.
Dennis Conner lost it in 1995 to Team New Zealand and Russell Coutts, a three-time America's Cup winner who is CEO of BMW Oracle Racing.
Besides Ellison, tactician John Kostecki of Reno, Nev., was the only other American on BMW Oracle's crew. It was steered by skipper Jimmy Spithill of Australia, who at 30 is sailing in his fourth America's Cup.
"The boys are just absolutely lit up," Spithill said. "Larry's stoked, Russell's stoked and we just can't wait to get back to shore to celebrate."
While Ellison's fortune made the victory possible, the true star was his monster trimaran and its radical 223-foot wing sail, which powered the craft at three times the speed of the wind, sending its windward and middle hulls flying well above the water.
When the yacht hooks into a breeze, it seems as if Spithill is jamming down an accelerator.
The American trimaran took a 28-second lead rounding the first mark Sunday and then accelerated over the Mediterranean while sailing across the wind on the second leg, its windward and middle hulls flying out of the water.
The final margin was 5 minutes, 26 seconds. Alinghi had to do a 270-degree at the finish, the result of its second prestart blunder in as many races.
These were the fastest, most technologically advanced sailboats built in the 159-year history of the America's Cup.