Switzerland's Alinghi secured her berth in this week's challenger final with a victory in today's Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, while two newcomer teams each racked up wins against long-time campaigners.
Guided by Kiwi skipper and tactician Brad BUTTERWORTH and steered by American helmsman Ed BAIRD
, Alinghi won her third race in four days of gold fleet competition.
Although she will race Italy's Luna Rossa tomorrow, Alinghi has already amassed top points for the round and cannot be beaten. She is now a finalist in the sailoff later this week to decide which challenger will meet host Emirates Team New Zealand in racing for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series Trophy. Four other gold fleet teams and two silver fleet teams will race in a sudden-death sail off and ladder competition to decide the other challenger finalist.
After declining to race against Emirates Team New Zealand yesterday for tactical reasons, Alinghi came out loaded for bear today in a race against BMW Oracle Racing, steered by Russell COUTTS
(NZL), winning by 13 seconds.
In the closest race of the day, TEAMORIGIN'S Ben AINSLIE
(GBR) scored a narrow victory over his old team mate Dean BARKER
(NZL) in close racing, winning by just six seconds. It was a hollow victory for the new points-starved British team because victories against Emirates Team New Zealand are not counted in this round.
The two Italian syndicates racing in Auckland met in the first race of the day. The veteran Luna Rossa with Peter HOLMBERG
(ISV) as its new helmsman sailed against the fast-rising newcomer Damiani Italia Challenge, skippered by Vasco VASCOTTO
(ITA) and steered by Francesco BRUNI
(ITA). The newcomers leveraged a small advantage at the start line into a 1 min 40 sec victory after four legs.
Gold Fleet Scores
Alinghi, 3 points
BMW Oracle Racing, 2
Damiani Italia Challenge, 1
Luna Rossa, 0
(Emirates Team New Zealand is not awarded points in this round)
Silver Fleet Scores
China Team, 3
Pataugas K-Challenge, 2
Greek Challenge, 1
Team Shosholoza, 0
Full results at www.louisvuitton-pacificseries.com
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