5 things to watch as America's Cup begins

  • Oracle Team USA heads for the windward marks with the Golden Gate Bridge visible in the distance during training for the America's Cup sailing event on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, in San Francisco. The first races between Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand are on Saturday. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

SAN FRANCISCO — There's nothing like the first leg of the first race of the America's Cup, when teams get an idea of whose boat is fastest and who might have missed badly after spending $100 million or more.

And there's never been an America's Cup like this. It's being sailed on breathtaking San Francisco Bay in foiling 72-foot catamarans that can hit 50 mph. Defending champion Oracle Team USA is starting with a two-point deficit after getting punished in the biggest cheating scandal in the regatta's 162-year history.

It's an American tycoon, software billionaire Larry Ellison, against the gutty Kiwis of Emirates Team New Zealand, who carry the hopes of their small, sailing-mad island nation and a desire to sweep the Auld Mug back to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

The short-course, inshore racing is both fan- and TV-friendly. Race 1 is scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. PDT Saturday, with Race 2 to follow an hour later. Two races are scheduled for Sunday, with all four weekend races being shown live on NBC.

For the Kiwis, it's still best-of-17, meaning they need to win nine races to win the Cup. With its penalty, Oracle Team USA must win 11 races to keep the trophy.

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