America's Cup racing is set to resume on Sunday with Emirates Team New Zealand just one race short of claiming the trophy from Oracle Team USA.
After struggling for much of the regatta's final series in San Francisco, the team owned by Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison has gained momentum against Emirates Team New Zealand, refusing since Thursday to let the Kiwis win the one race that would give them the trophy.
Uncooperative weather conditions on San Francisco Bay wreaked havoc on the race schedule last week and most recently forced the postponement of two races scheduled for Saturday.
Organizers said they expect the wind to start light and build through the afternoon for Sunday's two planned races, reaching about 20 knots (23 mph), which would be under the wind limits that have halted racing several times during the regatta.
But a new potential wrinkle surfaced Saturday night when a whale was spotted in San Francisco Bay. Regatta director Ian Murray said helicopters were monitoring the racing area for sea life that could disrupt racing.
"I think people are fed up with time limits, wind limits and whale limits and want to move on," he said.
The Kiwis dominated the early matches of the final, which began Sept. 7, and appeared poised to easily reclaim the trophy they lost in 2003. But Oracle has succeeded in shifting the momentum with boat changes and improved tacking, and the two teams now appear remarkably even.
In the best-of-17 series, New Zealand has an 8-3 advantage over Oracle. Racing is scheduled to continue every day until there is a winner.