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First Cup race abandoned because of no wind

VALENCIA, Spain - The first race of the 33rd America's Cup was called off today almost four hours after it was to start because of insufficient wind on the race course. The start of the first race is now set for Wednesday.

The two huge multihulls - American challenger BMW Oracle Racing's trimaran and Swiss defender Alinghi's catamaran - waited around the starting line for wind, but were eventually sent back to their bases.

Both sailboats measure 90 feet on the waterline, but are closer to 100 feet overall and both have beams of 90 feet. The rigid wing on USA soars 223 feet into the air -longer by far than any airplane wing ever made.

There have never been such powerful sailboats built and they are capable of sailing three times the speed of the wind.

This is a match between billionaires: Larry Ellison, the San Francisco-based owner of software company Oracle Corp., and Ernesto Bertarelli, of Geneva, Switzerland, heir to a biotechnology fortune. Ellison's syndicate is represented by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, Bertarelli's by Société Nautique de Genève.

The two are locked in a dispute both on the water and in the New York court system. Estimates are that their legal fees alone have run into eight figures during the last two years while a litany of disputes were brought before the court.

In other news, ESPN360.com - ESPN's 24/7 broadband sports network - will be carrying live coverage of the Cup.

Coverage of the best-of-three duel, broadcast from Valencia, Spain, began today at 3:45 a.m. EST. Race 1 is now scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 10, and Race 2 Friday, Feb. 12, both at 3:45 a.m. EST.

Gary Jobson, ESPN sailing commentator and president of US Sailing, and sailing expert Randy Smyth will be calling the event. Both are previous America's Cup winners.

ESPN360.com is available at no cost to broadband customers who receive high-speed Internet connection from an affiliated service provider, including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Charter, Windstream, RCN, Insight, Frontier, Cavalier, Mediacom, Conway, Grande Communications and others.

The service is available at no cost to U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational and on-base military networks.

— Bob Black

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