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America’s Cup opener postponed again

VALENCIA, Spain - America's Cup racing was cancelled for the second time, as the race committee today decided waves were too high for the huge multihulls.

The Swiss defending syndicate Alinghi has been particularly concerned about wave height and attempted to put a maximum of 1 meter into the racing rules. The American challenger BMW Oracle Racing has said it is prepared to race in rougher seas.

Monday's race was cancelled due to light and fluky winds.

BOR skipper James Spithill said that while he was "happy" with the race committee decision, "From our point of view there were no safety issues today. I think we could have gone [racing]."

He estimated the wave height at around 1.5 meters.

Higher winds earlier today had the Americans licking their chops. USA-17 — BOR's trimaran — is favored in the upper wind ranges, while Alinghi 5 — the defender's catamaran — is said to like lighter winds. Both have clocked speeds up to three times the speed of the wind. BOR's yacht sports a huge wing sail while Alinghi is using traditional "soft" sails.

The 600-strong international press corps here is getting restive. Many are due to leave this weekend for the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia - with the America's Cup likely undecided. And there has been criticism from veteran racing sailors and observers that the race committee has been too conservative, that racing should have been held in conditions in which the committee has twice cancelled.

The Cup will be claimed by the first syndicate to win two races. Because of the rules agreed to by both teams, racing will resume Friday — hopefully.

— Bob Black

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