CASCAIS, Portugal -- Emirates Team New Zealand won the first America's Cup World Series regatta with a dramatic come-from-behind move in the winner-take-all fleet race Sunday.
Dean Barker skippered the Kiwis' 45-foot catamaran to the victory in light, patchy wind.
Oracle Racing's Jimmy Spithill, the winning skipper in the 2010 America's Cup, jumped to a convincing early lead but couldn't protect it. Barker found more wind on his side of the race course on the second lap to pass Spithill, who on Saturday won the match-racing championship.
"For us it was fantastic," Barker said. "It was always going to be a very difficult race, as the breeze never really established. There were big 'holes' in the race course, so it was about being at the right place at the right time."
Oracle Corp. chairman Larry Ellison was aboard Spithill's boat as part of the guest racer program.
"We had a great start but both Artemis and Team New Zealand managed to pass us and that's what these boats are all about," Ellison said. "It makes the sailing much more exciting. It's not a matter of 'you win the start, you win the race.' So it's just what we hoped for when we decided on multihulls for the next America's Cup. It's really competitive and that's what people want to see. They want to see close races and the best sailors in the fastest boats."
Oracle Racing's Russell Coutts was fourth, followed by Green Comm Racing, Aleph, Team Korea, Energy Team and China Team.
The next stop on the ACWS circuit is Sept. 10-18 at Plymouth, England.
The America's Cup World Series will be sailed this year and next as a buildup to the Louis Vuitton Cup and 34th America's Cup, which will be sailed on San Francisco Bay in 2013 in 72-foot catamarans.