Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Oracle stays alive with win, postponement

SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle Team USA avoided elimination Thursday in an America's Cup that is plodding along with wind, tide and safety concerns.

Jimmy Spithill and defending champion Oracle Team USA sped around San Francisco Bay to win Race 12 by 31 seconds and prevent Emirates Team New Zealand from clinching the Cup.

Oracle Team USA trails 8-2 and still needs seven victories to keep the trophy.

Race 13 was delayed because the wind kept popping above the limit of 20 knots. The breeze died down and the prestart sequence began with the 72-foot catamarans in the box, but the wind spiked about a minute before the start and it was called off.

Organizers will try to get in Race 13 — and a Race 14, if necessary — today.

Races have been postponed four times in three days. A number of factors are converging to prolong the regatta.

The original wind limit was 33 knots. After the capsize of Artemis Racing's catamaran on May 9, the limit was reduced to 23 knots as one of 37 safety recommendations made by regatta director Ian Murray.

The wind limit is offset by the tide. An ebb tide flowed out of San Francisco Bay at 3 knots before the scheduled start of Race 13, reducing the wind limit to 20 knots.

Asked if he's enjoying watching the Kiwis squirm, Spithill, an Australian, said: "I'm loving every minute of it."

Spithill said Oracle can come back to win the Cup.

Kiwi skipper Dean Barker is aware that pressure will mount if the losses continue.

"We're preparing as well as we can for every day," Barker said. "We're certainly very pleased with the way the boat's going and everything else, and we know that if we sail properly, we'll give them a decent run."

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