SAN DIEGO — Confusion reigned aboard Il Moro di Venezia at Sunday's finish.
So what else is new?
The Italian team, which has redefined photo finishes in America's Cup competition, defeated America 3 Sunday by three seconds in the second race of the finals.
It was Il Moro's third race of the regatta decided by three seconds or less--and the closest in the history of the finals. And when it was over, nobody aboard Il Moro knew who had won.
The teams don't have radios on board, and the finish was too close to call.
The race was decided in Il Moro's favor because the Italians' gennaker cut the line before America 3's.
"I really didn't know what happened. . . . We knew it was close, we thought we won because our spinnaker was full and theirs was collapsed," Il Moro strategist Tommaso Chieffi said.
"There were people excited but I really didn't know until our measurer came aboard four or five minutes later."
Chieffi's brother, Enrico, Il Moro's tactician, learned the outcome from one of the support boats. "It was some minutes after the finish, three or four minutes," he said. "The finish was really close. I personally thought we had won but I was not (celebrating). That was probably the most nervous time of the race--it's not up to you anymore."
Not everyone on Il Moro was that confident. Mainsail trimmer Andrea Mura, whose view of the finish buoy was blocked, thought the Italians had lost.
"From my position I saw the other boat--I had the mainsail in my face--and they were faster. To me I was saying, for sure we lost," he said."
Mura said he didn't know the result "for a lot of minutes after the race. We (finally) got a support boat signal."
Amid the early chaos there was celebrating and pointing on each boat. Some aboard America 3were pointing to the final buoy, claiming Il Moro had clipped it. Videos showed otherwise. There may or may not have been conversation between the crews, depending on whose perception is correct.
Tommaso Chieffi said, "There was no dialogue. They were pointing at the judges that we touched the buoy. We knew we were close but we didn't touch."
Enrico Chieffi said, "I said to our guys, 'Be quiet guys.' There was some talk (but) I don't know what they say."
He's pretty sure it wasn't conversational, however. "With a finish like that," he said, "it is hard to be friendly."
Mura said with a grin, "It was funny 'cause some of them (aboard America 3) make a little jump, like they win. Then a second after, some of our guys jump."
Now Il Moro has some history on its side--the first victory by a European crew in the finals since 1934--as well as a number of some of the most closely contested races in Cup history. The Italians twice defeated New Zealand by one second on the way to the finals.
Enrico Chieffi said, "We had some races like this (in earlier rounds). We are quite used to that. We know we have to be really calm and--what's the word?--cool. Sure, we were cool. You know you're gonna win or lose on whether you do something wrong or right, so you better do it right."
Chieffi said the tight victories are evidence "of our strength to know (when) we have to do better to win. We recognize our problems, our mistakes and we know we can do better."
Mura said, "I think in this situation we are very strong. We learn a lot and we are very good."
Tommaso Chieffi suggested that win or lose, the Italians will continue to rank among yachting's elite thanks to the steady progress in the program.
"The Italian campaign will be strong forever," he said. "We are part of the history of the America's Cup. We are the most professional campaign ever seen, not only in Italy but in Europe."