Sailing-Drama builds as Oracle mounts comeback in America's Cup
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 15
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 15 (Reuters) - After months of accidents, controversies and one-sided racing, it took just one day for the America's Cup sailing competition to get very interesting.
Defending champion Oracle Team USA took the 8th race of the best-of-seventeen series on Saturday after challenger Emirates team New Zealand nearly capsized, ending a three-race losing streak and shifting the dynamic of a contest where New Zealand had once looked all but invincible.
All eyes were on the wind speed as the two teams geared up for racing Sunday morning, with the breezes on San Francisco Bay nearing the first-race limit of 20.8 knots. A big crowd was expected for the newly-competitive event, which drew 52,000 to viewing areas along the Bay on Saturday.
If the two Sunday races go off as scheduled, Oracle will be aiming to show that it's newfound speed on the upwind leg of the course--where New Zealand has sealed easy victories until Saturday's turnabout--was more than a fluke.
New Zealand bounced back in the second race on Saturday, leading the contest by a narrow margin before it was called off for excessive winds. But a team that had been all but anointed the new Cup-holder on Friday now has something to prove.
New Zealand has won six races and needs three more wins to take the Cup. Oracle, which was hit with a two-race penalty for illegal boat modifications in a preliminary regatta, has won twice but still needs nine victories to keep the 162-year-old trophy. The next races are on Tuesday and the regatta is scheduled to run through Saturday.
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