Oracle stays alive in race for America’s Cup 

click to enlarge Oracle Team USA
  • AP Photo/Ben Margot
  • Oracle Team USA, left, leads Emirates Team New Zealand during the 12th race of the America's Cup sailing event, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, in San Francisco.
Oracle Team USA kept hope alive in the America’s Cup Final, winning the only race of the day on Thursday and forcing at least one more day of action on San Francisco Bay.

The score now stands at 8-2 in favor of Emirates Team New Zealand, as the Kiwis remain one win away from victory. Once again, the second race of the day was postponed when the wind pushed over the limit, which was 20.3 knots for the second race.

The race was won at the starting gate for Oracle, as skipper Jimmy Spithill maneuvered his way into a big lead out of the gate. Once the teams got into open water, Oracle maintained a sizeable lead over New Zealand throughout the second leg, and kept a narrow margin on the upwind leg, where it had struggled in the early races of the series.

Once Oracle cleared the third gate 10 seconds ahead of New Zealand, it took off on the downwind leg and ran away with a 31-second victory.

Oracle has now won four races in the series, but did not get credit for the first two thanks to penalties stemming from misconduct in last year’s America’s Cup World Series.

Regatta director Iain Murray was asked about raising the wind limits for the remaining races, but he said it was a bit late in the game to make such a big change to the guidelines. With the afternoons expected to begin seeing flood tides, meaning the water is flowing out of San Francisco Bay, Murray said the limit should go up naturally going forward.

“I think right now we’re dealing with the worst of it,” he said. “It’ll get a whole lot better from here, so I’m not sure [raising the limit] would change much anyway.”

A change in limit would require the agreement of both teams, and while Spithill said Thursday that Oracle has already sent a letter to the Kiwi team proposing a change, his counterpart took the same stance as Murray.

“It just seems a little bit strange that halfway thorugh a series, that you need to change a wind limit that has been agreed,” New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said. “I think prior to the start of racing, absolutely we would have agreed, but we just don’t think it’s right to change it in the middle of the event.”

Barker went on to say his team had originally recommended a limit of 25 knots, while Oracle called for 20. The teams settled on 23 as a compromise, though Spithill said he feels the teams have since proven they can handle higher winds.

New Zealand has another chance to close things out today, with the first race of the day scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. Racing is scheduled daily until a winner is crowned.

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