“Rice is going to get smashed.” Those were the fighting words of pro surfer Jamie O’Brien when asked to predict the outcome of Red Bull Battle in the Bay, a best-out-of-3 sailing race series and skipper duel against pro snowboarder Travis Rice. Each was provided a $1 million ORACLE TEAM USA (OTUSA) 45-foot catamaran, complete with names affixed onto the sails.
To ensure teams were evenly matched, each athlete drafted sailors from ORACLE TEAM USA to round out their squads. O’Brien selected OTUSA skipper Jimmy Spithill with the #1 pick of the draft, and grinder Shannon Falcone went to Rice with the 2nd pick. In advance of racing, they both spent two days training with OTUSA to learn about the bay’s wind and current conditions, and went through a day-in-the-life workout session with the defending America’s Cup champions.
In this waterman vs. mountain man showdown, O’Brien upset Rice in the first race, leveraging a favorable current in the bay to push him to victory. In Race 2, Rice stepped up his game and made a course correction on strategy to take his first win. It all came down to Race 3 where Rice continued to get into a groove with his teammates, making strong tactical decisions to seal the win.
As is the custom in the America’s Cup, which is now taking place on San Francisco Bay between ORACLE TEAM USA and Emirates Team New Zealand, Rice and O’Brien popped the celebratory champagne bottles to cap off a frenetic and feisty battle on the bay.
Watch the 34th America’s Cup on NBCSN all week long (Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). Check your local listings for times.