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Ellison's latest takeover: AmericaOne

No matter what he does, billionaire Larry Ellison wants to be the boss. This time, he has taken charge of a sailboat that competes for the America's Cup.

No matter what he does--at work or at play--billionaire Larry Ellison wants to be the boss.

Earlier this month, in a power play, Oracle president Ray Lane abruptly left the database giant, leaving Ellison firmly in charge.

Now Oracle's CEO is running another venture: AmericaOne, a sailboat that lost its America's Cup challenge last year. This time, the yachtie is replacing veteran sailor Paul Cayard, skipper and CEO of AmericaOne, as team leader. Cayard, a San Francisco native, is a six-time world champion and five-time America's Cup veteran. He began sailing in 1967.

Ellison's interest in financing a new challenge in the America's Cup has been rumored--but not his desire to be the boss. It would be his first participation in an America's Cup. The next race is set for 2003.

"AmericaOne has now agreed to transfer all of its assets to Larry Ellison, and Paul Cayard has agreed to be part of a new Ellison team," reads a letter to St. Francis Yacht Club members this month. "Paul will not be the leader of the team the way he was at AmericaOne. The new leader will be Larry."

The letter from Bruce Munro, commodore of the San Francisco-based yacht club, goes on to say: "The increased cost of an America's Cup challenge has made it almost impossible to be competitive without the kind of financial support that only a very few individuals can provide. I believe this is an unfortunate development for the America's Cup, but it is the reality of today's situation."

Ellison has deeper pockets than Cayard--but much less sailing experience.

Ellison joined the St. Francis Yacht Club just five years ago. Still, he is a "recognized yachtsman," as Munro put it, "having campaigned his boat Sayonara on the international yachting scene under our burgee." Ellison's most high-profile win was the 1998-1999 race from Sydney, Australia, to Hobart, Tasmania, which occurred in a deadly storm.

But the St. Francis Yacht Club remains upbeat: "The board of directors of your club are enthusiastic about the prospect of a new challenge under Larry Ellison's leadership."

Meanwhile, as reported, a Florida yacht broker took Ellison to court this week, claiming that he didn't receive a sales commission for a yacht that Ellison bought in 1996.