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Drought is over: U.S. takes back America's Cup

VALENCIA, Spain - Still bundled against the cold in his white foul-weather gear, software tycoon Larry Ellison hoisted the America's Cup high in the air, then planted a kiss on the oldest trophy in international sports.

"Valencia - muchas gracias!" the self-made billionaire screamed following the ride of his life across the Mediterranean on one of the most remarkable boats ever built.

After sitting out Race 1 due to a weight limit, the 65-year-old Ellison was onboard his trimaran Sunday as the space-age craft with a gigantic wing for a sail sped ahead of two-time defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland to complete the two-race sweep.

"I am so proud of this team, I am so proud to be part of this team, and I am especially proud to bring the America's Cup, once again, after a long absence, back to the United States of America," said Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corp.

The America's Cup has been away from U.S. shores for 15 years, the longest drought since the schooner 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 Coutts, now a four-time America's Cup winner.

Syndicate CEO Russell Coutts popped the cork on a magnum of champagne and sprayed his boss as blue and silver confetti blew across the stage and fireworks went off across Port America's Cup, a festive ending to a tumultuous 2 1/2-year period that dragged the 159-year-old event to one of its lowest points.

Ellison and rival Ernesto Bertarelli had been locked in court since July 2007 over the terms of the races, 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 during Race 2, leaving everyone wondering what it was about since there's no communication off the boats. The Swiss dropped the protest after the race, confirming Ellison's win.

Bertarelli wasn't at the ceremony when the ornate America's Cup was handed over by the Societe Nautique de Geneve to San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club.

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