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Oracle Drops Bay Area Native From Crew As America’s Cup Finals Continue

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Team Oracle USA sails their AC-72 Racing Yacht in the bay during a training session. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Team Oracle USA sails their AC-72 Racing Yacht in the bay during a training session. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Defending champion Oracle Team USA on Thursday dropped a Bay Area native from its sailing crew as the team tries to find a way to come back from a large deficit in the America’s Cup Finals, which resumes this afternoon in San Francisco.

Tactician John Kostecki, who grew up in San Rafael and has years of experience sailing on the San Francisco Bay, was dropped from Oracle’s racing crew after making perceived tactical errors.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie will replace Kostecki as the sixth race begins Thursday afternoon.

Emirates Team New Zealand is leading Oracle by a score of 4 to negative-1 in the finals.

Oracle was docked two points by the regatta’s International Jury before the racing began for making illegal modifications to its boats during exhibition races in 2012 and earlier this year. It has since won one race in the finals.

The New Zealand team needs to win just five more races to become the new America’s Cup champions, while Oracle needs to win twice that number to retain the Cup.

Oracle used its only “postponement card” to regroup after losing the fifth race of the finals on Tuesday, and was hoping the replacement of Kostecki with Ainslie will help get them back on the winning side.

The team has struggled on the lone upwind leg of the race course, losing an average of 48 seconds to the New Zealand team on that portion.

“We can win these races,” Oracle team skipper Jimmy Spithill said. “We just need to be very, very smart about how we go about it and we have to sail our boat well.”

The two teams are scheduled to race twice on Thursday afternoon, with more races scheduled on Saturday and Sunday.

More information about the races can be found online at www.americascup.com.

(Copyrgiht 2013 CBS San Francisco and Bay City News. All rights reserved.)

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