Sunday, April 29, 2007

America's Cup: Oracle Team Maintains Lead [J. Mark English]

Its been nearly over two decades since an American team has captured the prestigious American Cup. But the sailing world may be in for a jolt, as the Oracle Team seems to be showing some muscles in one of the most famous races to take place on the ocean.

Angus Phillips of the Washington Post has more:

The first round robin of the 32nd America's Cup drew to a close Saturday, six days late but with enough drama to make the wait worthwhile.

In moderate winds and sun-splashed seas, previously undefeated U.S. entry BMW Oracle took an unexpected beating from the much-loved home team, Desaf?o Espa?ol, in the first race but rallied to beat Emirates Team New Zealand in the second. The win gave BMW Oracle the lead in the standings halfway through this elimination round and sent pre-regatta favorite New Zealand plummeting to third.

Is there any reality to America actually winning? Gary Jobson of ESPN gives further thought to the possibility:

Similar to the mission of the yacht America in 1851, one American boat is up against a field of 11 other teams from nine countries in a battle to win the America's Cup. The United States was dominant for 141 years, winning 28 out of 29 matches, but not any more. The U.S. has not reached the Cup final since 1995...

..What will set the tone for future America's Cups is how Allinghi will fare practicing on its own as the challengers spend the next two months racing and improving their boat speed and sailing skill. So far, Allinghi has shown she is the favorite by wining a two-year series of pre-Cup regattas called Louis Vuitton Acts.

Of course, no one knows exactly what will happen. And for that reason, the 32nd America's Cup season will be great fun to watch.

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