HONOLULU - Oracle Corp.'s sailing team is canceling plans to train in Hawaii this winter for next year's America's Cup race in San Francisco, the team's general manager said Tuesday.
Oracle Team USA - the America's Cup defending champion - this month applied to the Hawaii Department of Transportation for permission to operate out of a state-owned harbor on Lanai, the island Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is buying from billionaire David Murdock.
But the team won't have time to go to Lanai for training this winter because it will be modifying its new boat, said General Manager Grant Simmer. The team has a lot of development work to do and so its priorities have changed, he said.
"We're planning some modifications to our new boat and the time that we had free to go to Lanai was getting shorter and shorter, such that it was no longer really a viable option for us," Simmer said.
Still, he said the team had completed a feasibility study for the idea and there's a possibility the team could try to train out of Lanai in future years.
He noted that the U.S. team Stars and Stripes trained out of Oahu in the mid-1980s and then went on to win the America's Cup when it was held in Perth, Australia.
"There's a little bit of history there," Simmer said.
The team had been planning to train in Hawaii for about six weeks, he said. Its aim was to find some better weather in the winter months, weather that would allow the team to sail more consistently and have longer days on the water.
Now the team will stay in San Francisco, its usual training grounds, for the winter.
The team was seeking permission from the state DOT to use state-owned Kaumalapau Harbor on Lanai from December through March. Simmer said that the team has notified people it was working with on Lanai and in Maui County about its change of plans.
Oracle expected to spend $345,000 setting up the facility, which was to include 40-foot freight containers, temporary moorings and a 200-foot-long floating dock at the small-boat harbor on Lanai's southwest coast.
Oracle's plans would not have significantly affected the environment, the DOT told the Department of Health's office of environmental quality control.
Ellison reached the pinnacle of competitive sailing in 2010 when the software tycoon's yacht captured the America's Cup. The team swept the two championships in the opening regatta of the 2012-13 America's Cup World Series last month.
In June, Ellison closed on a deal to buy most of Lanai from Murdock. Lanai residents say that Ellison, a thrill-seeking ocean lover, has been known to sail or jet into Lanai in the past.