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Lack of wind stalls America's Cup start

Alinghi's giant catamaran returns to Valencia's harbor after the first day of racing was postponed.
Alinghi's giant catamaran returns to Valencia's harbor after the first day of racing was postponed.
  • Start of the 33rd America's Cup has been delayed yet again by a lack of wind in Spain
  • Holders Alinghi were due to face Oracle in first of three races on Monday morning
  • It has now been rescheduled for Wednesday, with Alinghi seeking a third straight title
  • The two syndicates have been in legal disputes since Alinghi's last win in 2007

(CNN) -- After two years of bitter legal wrangles, the start of the 33rd America's Cup has been delayed yet again by a lack of wind off the coast of Valencia in Spain.

Swiss team Alinghi had been due to begin the defense of their title on Monday morning against American challenger Oracle, but the two giant multihulls were sent back to their bases in the afternoon.

Race organizers announced that the opening clash of the three-race series will take place on Wednesday.

"Principal Race officer Harold Bennett and his team on the water had made continuous attempts to seek out a breeze which was of sufficient strength and settled enough in direction across the proposed 20 miles windward Leg One to allow a fair race to be started," the event's official Web site reported.

"But, despite their best efforts, the variance at times was over 100 degrees between the gentle breeze at the committee boat some 25 miles offshore, and the planned position of the turning buoy where there was a breeze of around 10-11 knots sometimes."

Alinghi won sailing's premier prize from Team New Zealand in 2003, and then successfully defended it in Valencia in 2007.

The syndicate, set up by Ernesto Bertarelli under the auspices of the Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG), immediately accepted a challenge from Spain's Club Nautico Espanol de Vela (CNEV).

This was immediately disputed by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the organization behind Oracle, setting off a chain of disputes that have lasted right up until the eve of the scheduled races.

First off, CNEV were deemed not be acceptable challengers, with a New York court ruling that Oracle should take their place. Alinghi invited multiple challengers before finally agreeing to take on the Americans in a multihull challenge, instead of the usual monohull boat format.

Since then the two sides have battles over the date and venue, and more recently over the technical aspects of their boats.

Alinghi have entered a 90-foot (27 meter) catamaran, which measures about 120 foot when the bowsprit is taken into account.

Oracle will be racing a 90-foot trimaran, which has been significantly modified since its launch almost two years ago.

The series has added spice as Oracle is now led by Russell Coutts, who won the cup twice with Team New Zealand and then guided Alinghi to victory against his compatriots in 2003.

He was sacked by Alinghi in 2004 but joined Oracle in 2007 to head their challenge.

Coutts has yet to indicate if he will be involved in the actual racing, with his team including helmsman James Spithill, a former world match-racing champion, and Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper John Kostecki as tactician.

Alinghi is led by skipper/tactician Brad Butterworth, another New Zealander, who has been involved in four America's Cup triumphs, while Bertarelli is helmsman.

Oracle are seeking to bring the prestigious event event back to its traditional American home for the first time in 15 years.

The cup itself dates back to 1851, making it the oldest competed for in international sport, and was for a long time fought for by British and U.S. syndicates.

Alan Bond's Australia II became the first nation outside those naval superpowers to win it in 1983, with the San Diego Yacht Club holding the coveted crown until the emerging Team New Zealand came to prominence in 1995.

Races One and Three will be contested over a 40-mile upwind-downwind loop, while Race Two covers 39 miles around an equilateral triangle course comprising a 13-mile beat and two 13-mile reaches.