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High winds postpone America's Cup

Three helicopters fly behind Emirates Team New Zealand before what would have been the start of Race 11 in the America’s Cup against Oracle Team USA.

Associated Press

Three helicopters fly behind Emirates Team New Zealand before what would have been the start of Race 11 in the America’s Cup against Oracle Team USA.

SAN FRANCISCO — Strong wind blowing in through the Golden Gate Bridge and a strong tide flowing out to sea forced organizers to postpone two America's Cup races Tuesday between Emirates Team New Zealand and defender Oracle Team USA.

Lighter wind is expected today on San Francisco Bay, when organizers hope to complete Races 11 and 12.

Team New Zealand leads 7-1 and needs two wins to claim the America's Cup for the second time in 18 years. Oracle Team USA, owned by software mogul Larry Ellison, was penalized two points in a cheating scandal, so it needs eight more victories to keep the Auld Mug.

The wind limit of 23 knots was reduced to 20.3 because of an ebb tide flowing out at 2.7 knots. Regatta director Iain Murray said it was the strongest current day of the summer.

The wind gusted to 25 knots.

The original wind limit of 33 knots was reduced to 23 as one of 37 safety recommendations made after British double Olympic medalist Andrew "Bart" Simpson was killed May 9 when Artemis Racing's catamaran capsized during a training run.

"This is not a safe sport by definition," said Dirk Kramers of Oracle's design team. "The loss of Bart in May shook us pretty hard as a community, as a whole industry."

On Monday, Oracle Team USA officials proposed increasing the wind limit from 23 to 24 knots, saying crews were capable of starting races in those conditions aboard their high-performance, 72-foot catamarans.

Team New Zealand declined, saying it would have considered it before racing started but didn't feel it was appropriate to make changes this far into the regatta.

Even if the teams agreed, Murray would have to take the proposal to the U.S. Coast Guard.

"We're very happy with where it's at," Team New Zealand technical director Nick Holroyd said. "After the racing was canceled today, we went through the southwest corner Alcatraz across a shoal, which was a pretty rough piece of water."

High winds postpone America's Cup 09/17/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 10:32pm]
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