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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sailing: Strong wind keeps America's Cup boats off water

AP Sports Writer

VALENCIA, Spain Strong wind on Tuesday kept Alinghi and BMW Oracle from training ahead for the first race of their America's Cup showdown.

Cup holder Alinghi decided against launching its catamaran, while American challenger BMW Oracle launched its trimaran with president Larry Ellison aboard but eventually decided to abandon a planned practice.

The first race was called off on Monday due to unsteady wind and the start of the three-race series was pushed back to Wednesday.

Both teams are hoping for good conditions then, but are also expecting choppier waters. Another postponement would shift the first race to Friday.

The northwest front that blew into Valencia on Tuesday is expected to continue into Wednesday and create a good sailing breeze. But the sea could provide concern with boats not likely to race if waves are larger than a 3 feet.

"This time of year, it's pretty up and down. It's a difficult time of year in Valencia," Alinghi meteorologist Jack Katzfey said. "We'll get a race off eventually, it just might take awhile."

The Deed of Gift, the 1887 document that governs the event, does not allow for races to be sailed on back-to-back days. The recent conditions illustrate how difficult this regatta could be, especially when wind patterns vary across a race course that encompasses 400 square miles.

The teams are finally settling their differences on the water after the sailing classic was disrupted by a bitter court fight that lasted 2 years, leading to the Mediterranean city hosting the series in less than ideal winter conditions.

Because Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing couldn't agree to rules for a conventional regatta involving several challengers sailing for the right to meet the defender, it defaulted to a rare head-to-head showdown, or Deed of Gift Match, pitting the fastest, most powerful sailboats ever built.