SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The defending America's Cup champion fended off a French competitor to win Saturday's San Diego Bay warmup race for the big America's Cup yacht race in 2013.
Team Oracle Racing, with owner Larry Ellison on board as a spectator, handily beat the Team Energy challengers from France, 2-0, in the best of three challenge races, held in San Diego Bay off the foot of Broadway.
In the first race, Captain Yann Guichard of France piloted his Team Energy catamaran to a slight advantage at the starting line, and by the third gate was 20 seconds ahead of Team Oracle Racing, captained by Jimmy Spithill.
Lighter winds bedeviled the French captain's strategy on the fifth leg, and the Yanks cut the 100 meter French advantage to 40 meters, then tacked cut across the French boat, which was unable to draw a foul.
Energy was a bit early on a tack at the end of the fifth leg, after Spithill exercisized the right of way on a tack. Oracle crossed the fifth gate 14 seconds ahead of the French.
In the second race, the boats were hull to hull for the first two legs, but Energy fell 60 meters behind in very light air on the middle legs. Oracle's Spithill made no mistakes, and Energy was at one point relegated to trying to block the wind that was barely tickling the Oracle sheets.
The second race was won by the fifth gate, with the American catamaran 160 meters ahead of the French in diminishing, shifting winds. Oracle finally crossed the finish line at the U.S.S. Midway 67 seconds ahead of Energy.
Oracle Racing, as defending America's Cup champion, has selected San Francisco Bay for the 2013 race. Today's America's Cup World Series in San Diego was a warmup for the biggest event in yachting.
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