Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand for the fifth America's Cup race in a row, again denying the Kiwis the victory they need to take the trophy.
Monday's win evened the score on the water, with both teams winning eight races, but left Oracle behind two points on the scoreboard due to penalties imposed for pre-regatta violations.
If the USA wins the next race, set for Tuesday, it ratchets up the potential that the team's owner, billionaire yachtsman Larry Ellison, will launch legal battle to have the penalty overturned to claim victory in the best-of-17 regatta.
"We are sailors; we are athletes, we are not about politics," Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said when asked whether the outcome would be challenged if his team hits nine wins before New Zealand does.
"Life is not fair sometimes. We are not going to make excuses; we can control our own destiny."
The regatta on San Francisco Bay has become the longest in the 162-year history of the America's Cup. If the USA can fend the Kiwis off three more times, it would result in a comeback arguably unprecedented in sports.
The Kiwis have been one win away from seizing the Cup from Ellison since September 18.
"It has been a rough road the last few days, but there is not one person on the team thinking of throwing in the towel," said New Zealand skipper Dean Barker.
"The worst thing we can do is tighten up and not allow ourselves to do what we have done well."
The Kiwis dominated the early races and seemed unstoppable until the USA hurriedly modified its catamaran and on-board crew.
"We are racing against a boat much better than when it started," Barker said of the transformation seen in the USA since the regatta launched on September 7.
"We have to make sure we sail well to go ahead and win."
Barker said the Kiwi team has given no thought to how the USA winning nine races on the water, but losing the Cup, might tarnish the victory or spark a legal battle.
"We are just focused on trying to win another race," Barker said.
The Kiwis crossed the start slightly before the defending champion in Race 16, but the Americans darted ahead and rounded the first gate with a lead of just a few seconds.
The US catamaran extended its lead slightly by the second gate and into the critical upwind leg of the race.
The Americans managed to hold a lead of more than 100 meters into a downwind leg where the Kiwis were hot on their trail.
Oracle Team USA crossed the finish 33 seconds ahead of the challengers and because light winds delayed the start of Race 16, there was no time to hold the second planned race of the day.
The Kiwis, who won six of the first seven races, led 8-1 last Wednesday with nine wins needed for the Cup but have been unable to grab the clinching victory while the hosts have mounted a thrilling comeback and need only three more wins to retain possession of the Cup.
"You've got to play the cards you are dealt," Spithill said of the fact that the USA has to win 11 races to keep the cup while the Kiwis must rack up only nine.
"We are not going to make excuses."
Ellison got together with Spithill and others from the Oracle team late Sunday, according to the skipper.
"He is really excited," Spithill said of Ellison. "I bet he wishes he was out on the boat racing; he is a natural competitor. But he puts the team first and won't let his ego get in the way to get on the boat."
The America's Cup, first contested in 1851, has been held since 2010 by Ellison.
The technology industry titan, whose personal fortune is estimated at some $40 billion (30.6 billion euros, 26.3 billion pounds) beat the giant Swiss catamaran Alinghi 2-0 three years ago in Valencia, Spain, with a 30-metre-long (98-feet) rigid wing trimaran.
Ellison brought the regatta to San Francisco, setting the scene for high-speed AC72 catamarans to race this year.
"What you are experiencing is his vision," Spithill said of the thrilling duels playing out on the Bay. "He took a heap of criticism, but man, look at the show out there."
Oracle Team USA, pictured during race 16 of the America's Cup in San Francisco on September 23, 2013, beat Emirates Team New Zealand for the fifth America's Cup race in a row.
Oracle Team USA waves to spectators after winning race 16 of the America's Cup on September 23, 2013 in San Francisco.
Oracle Team USA crosses the finish line to defeat Emirates Team New Zealand in race 16 of the America's Cup in San Francisco on September 23, 2013.
Emirates Team New Zealand (L) and Oracle Team USA practice before the start of race 16 of the America's Cup in San Francisco on September 23, 2013.