How I won the America’s Cup for Oracle Team USA

Published on September 24th, 2014

by Joe Kirk
The first anniversary of Oracle Team USA’s improbable victory during the 34th America’s Cup is on September 25, 2014. Considered to be among the greatest comebacks in sports history, I felt it was now time to share the tale of how I won the America’s Cup for the U.S. defender.

As a Pittsburgher and Steeler fan, I know the power of the Terrible Towel. The sea of spinning Terrible Towels in Heinz Field has been known to cause missed field goals, errant passes, and even turn sure losses into heroic wins. And stepping on, or other misuse of the Terrible Towel by opponents, has been to their detriment. “The curse of the Terrible Towel” is well documented on the internet.

I have one the original Terrible Towels. It’s forty years old and has been washed only twice.

I may be only one of a handful of Steelers and America’s Cup fans, but there I was in San Francisco last year, sitting on a rock near the Golden Gate Yacht Club in early September, watching Oracle lose race after race. My sister-in-law (a native Pittsburgher and Mill Valley resident) sensed my discouragement and stated in no uncertain terms that I needed to buck-up and cheer for our home team.

BANNERSo I left the rock behind (much to the relief of my own behind) and headed off to Pier 27. It was Saturday, September 14 (Race Eight). I waited in line to watch the Oracle team pass by. Now my team! Seeing skipper Jim Spithill, I reached out and grasped his paw and barked “Go Get’em Jimmy”. Oracle won their second race that day and their third the following day. Sensing a change in the big “mo” (momentum to non-fans), I knew it was time for a banner.

The first day of its deployment, racing was cancelled. But, undiscouraged, I returned on the next day of racing, September 18 (Race 11) with the banner rolled tightly under my arm. Then it happened. Someone, no doubt a New Zealand fan, swiped the banner while I spent a few monuments in a porta potty. One does not take a banner into a porta potty. Although the Kiwis won that day (Race 11), WITH JUST ONE MORE WIN NEEDED TO WIN THE CUP, THEY NEVER WON ANOTHER RACE IN AC34!

Standing along the rail of Pier 27 on September 20, I watched the full impact of the curse of the of the absconded “Go Get’em Jimmy” banner as the winds died and time ran out with the New Zealand team leading literally by a mile in a race that would have won the America’s Cup.

Let’s be honest, New Zealand had a great team and boat. Given their early wins, they should have easily won the America’s Cup. But they were doomed the moment the banner was swiped. And while I had to return to Pittsburgh on September 23rd, I left San Francisco knowing my work was done and the Cup would be Oracle’s.

I put together the video on AC34, 2013 SF America’s Cup – a fan’s view which includes when I barked out “Go Get’em Jimmy” (at 1:21).


When not cheering on his Pittsburgh Steelers, Joe Kirk is a sailor on Lake Arthur, north of the City of Pittsburgh, and provides sailing instruction to the University of Pittsburgh Sailing Club.

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