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Light wind thwarts Kiwis in America’s Cup

September 20, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Emirates Team New Zealand was thwarted Friday in its effort to win the America’s Cup.

Race 13 was abandoned because of a time limit with the Kiwis far ahead of Oracle Team USA in light, shifty wind on foggy San Francisco Bay.

It was the sixth time a race was abandoned or postponed since Saturday. The previous five were because of wind over the safety limit. That was imposed after British sailor Andrew “Bart” Simpson was killed in the capsize of Artemis Racing’s catamaran during a training run May 9.

The Kiwis, who reached match point Wednesday, lead the series 8-2. Organizers planned to try again later Friday.

Team New Zealand was slogging along on the upwind fourth leg when the 40-minute limit was reached. The Kiwis had a lead of 1,573 meters at one point on the fourth leg.

It was a bizarre scene as the high-performance catamarans limped between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island in only 9 knots of wind. It was the lightest wind of the regatta.

Previously, the cats had hit speeds of 50 mph while skimming across the tops of the waves on hydrofoils, with their hulls completely out of the water.

The Kiwis might have beat the time limit if not for a move by Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill.

Kiwi skipper Dean Barker went too deep in the starting box, allowing Spithill to take the favored leeward position off the start line. Normally it’s a sprint across the wind as the big cats pop onto their foils. But during the crawl to the first mark, Spithill pushed the Kiwis off course as far as he could before rounding the buoy.

But the Kiwis caught a favorable puff early on the downwind second leg and sailed into the lead.