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BMW Oracle Racing to train in San Diego

Sept. 09, 2008, 9:42 p.m. (ET)

SAN DIEGO(AP) A touch of the America's Cup will return to San Diego this fall when BMW Oracle Racing ships its massive trimaran here for two months of training on the Pacific Ocean.

BMW Oracle Racing plans to send the boat, which measures 90 feet by 90 feet, by barge from Anacortes, Wash., to San Diego later this month. It expects to be training by the second week of October.

The trimaran, with a space-age look and a mast, boom and mainsail that dwarf its crew, was launched in late August and has been undergoing its first round of sea trials on Puget Sound.

``With light breeze and flat water, Anacortes has been the ideal place to sea trial our new boat,'' helmsman James Spithill said in a statement. ``We will move the team to San Diego for two months to extend the sailing season in the warmer climate of Southern California.''

The three-hulled, carbon-fiber boat would cover the diamond on a big league baseball field and is just a few feet shorter than an NBA court. The mast is 158 feet tall and the mainsail is approximately 5,300 square feet.

Even with all the time, effort and an estimated $10 million that have gone into it, the trimaran might not get the chance to sail for the oldest trophy in international sports.

BMW Oracle Racing, owned by Oracle software boss Larry Ellison, built it in anticipation of a one-on-one showdown against two-time defending America's Cup champion Alinghi of Switzerland.

San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club, which backs BMW Oracle Racing, and Societe Nautique de Geneve, the club that backs Alinghi, have been fighting in New York courts since the end of the last America's Cup in July 2007.

GGYC initially secured a court ruling that it was the rightful Challenger of Record, meaning it had the right to negotiate terms of a traditional multichallenger regatta with Alinghi. When the two syndicates couldn't agree to terms, it appeared they were headed toward a showdown in giant multihulls.

But last month, the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled 3-2 that Spain's Club Nautico Espanol de Vela, not GGYC, should be the Challenger of Record. That appeared to send the Cup back to its traditional format of several challengers vying in monohulls, not multihulls, for the right to face the defender in the America's Cup match.

GGYC has filed a last-chance appeal with the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany.

The San Diego Yacht Club held the America's Cup for eight years. Dennis Conner reclaimed it from Australia in 1987 and lost it to New Zealand in 1995.

The SDYC staged three defenses. In 1988, Conner turned back New Zealand's rogue challenge by sailing a catamaran to a two-race rout of the Kiwis' big boat. In 1992, Bill Koch's America3 beat Italy's Il Moro di Venezia 4-1. Three years later, Conner lost the silver trophy for the second time in 12 years when Russell Coutts, now the CEO and skipper of BMW Oracle Racing, steered Team New Zealand's Black Magic to a five-race sweep.

The trimaran will be based on San Diego Bay, near where Conner once based his boats.