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America's Cup World Series events a high-level tuneup

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images file photo
Oracle Team USA still needs 10 wins to retain the America’s Cup

Even though the America’s Cup World Series does not return to San Francisco until August, the Oracle teams remain right in the thick of the hunt for a fleet and match championship.

“All racing in general helps,” Oracle tactician John Kostecki said. “The World Series racing is the closest thing to the America’s Cup race. It’s all really good practice”

The teams finished their first fleet races in Naples, Italy, on Wednesday and they saw windy and choppy conditions on the water, similar conditions to what they will face in San Francisco.

“Any time you can get out in these times of conditions is rare, except for San Francisco,” Kostecki said. “We’re working on some of the subtleties.”

The Oracle teams had training sessions in San Francisco last month and that familiarity served them well on Wednesday.

“We probably have more time in the [45-foot boats] that most teams,” Kostecki said. “And the teams that do don’t get the strong winds like we do in San Fran. We were a little more prepared, a little more comfortable in those type of conditions.”

The Oracle Racing Spithill team is sitting in a tie for first place with Emirates Team New Zealand after two 35-minute races. The Bundock team finished the first race, but was unable to start the second and sits in seventh.

The Naples race is the fourth race of the America’s Cup World Series and it is also the first race since November.

That time off allowed the teams to get work in for the remainder of the World Series races, but most of the time was spent on getting ready for the America’s Cup main event in 2013.

The Oracle team won the America’s Cup main event in 2010 and goes into the 2013 America’s Cup in San Francisco as the defending champion.

“We’re spending a fair amount of time the development of the 72-footer that we will be racing in the America’s Cup,” Kostecki said.

“Seventy-five to 80 percent of that was developing systems for the boat.”

Overall, the Spithill team is tied with Emirates Team New Zealand for first in the AC World Series Fleet Racing standings with 28 points.

Oracle Racing Spithill is also right on the heels of the Emirates Team New Zealand in the match-racing championship, trailing by one point.

The Oracle Racing Coutts team had a setback at the San Diego fleet race in November and finished ninth, knocking it down to fourth.

AC World Series

A look at the upcoming schedule for America’s Cup World Series events:

Through Sunday: Naples, Italy
May 15-20: Venice, Italy
June 26-July 1: Newport, R.I.
Aug. 21-26: San Francisco
Oct. 4-7: San Francisco

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