Saturday, November 16, 2002

Oracle, Alinghi into America's Cup semis



The Associated Press

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Oracle of San Francisco followed Alinghi of Switzerland into the semifinals of the America's Cup challenger series Saturday, sending Seattle's OneWorld into the loser's bracket.

The team founded by Oracle CEO and chairman Larry Ellison completed a 4-0 win in the best-of- seven quarterfinal series with a 33-second win over OneWorld, the largest margin in the teams' four races.

Oracle now has won 11 straight races. The syndicate lost four of its five matches over the first two rounds before Ellison recalled Dickson from a shore job on Oct. 23, saying, "It's his to win or lose from here on."

"We're very happy to go through 4-0, obviously, but the scoresheet is a little flattering," Dickson said. "Racing was a whole bunch closer than the scoresheet suggests. It's been tough racing and we're thrilled to go through."

Oracle's quarterfinal wins over OneWorld - after the teams had traded 40-second wins in the first two rounds - have been by 12, 17, 19 and 33 seconds, suggesting an increasing boatspeed advantage.

Alinghi swept defending challenger champion Prada 4-0 after the Italian syndicate forfeited its race Saturday to concentrate on finetuning for the loser's bracket.

Le Defi of France left its campaign with a faint heartbeat when it beat Sweden's Victory Challenge by 34 seconds to cut Victory's lead to 3-1 in quarterfinals for the bottom four qualifiers.

The French team had begun the day facing elimination from the challenger series but fought back after trailing around the first four marks to keep the series alive.

New York's Stars & Stripes moved to matchpoint in its quarterfinal with Britain's GBR Challenge, winning by 34 seconds to take a 3-1 lead.

The losers of the Victory vs. Le Defi and Stars & Stripes vs. GBR series will be eliminated from the challenger series. The winners will follow OneWorld and Prada into loser's bracket.

OneWorld, as the highest-ranked quarterfinal loser, has the right to choose its opponent.




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