The Swiss Defender has won the last three races of the Match to grab a 4-2 lead in the series. One more win will see Alinghi hoist the America's Cup again, its first defence a success. For Emirates Team New Zealand, it is a difficult loss. The Kiwis now need to win the next three races to win the America's Cup.
It was yet another tense pre-start between the teams, with Ed BAIRD (USA) taking Dean BARKER (NZL) into a long dial-up. After waiting for what seemed an age, Alinghi accelerated on to starboard into a tack, New Zealand bearing away into a gybe and succeeding in getting across the bow of SUI 100.
were chasing the Kiwis, who gybed across the bow of their opponents - just - with the Umpires green-flagging the incident. At start time both boats made excellent starts with BAIRD claiming the right-hand end of the line.
Both boats paralleled each other for minutes and minutes, getting ever closer to the port tack lay line with the Kiwis in danger of being carried to the edge of the course. However a small left-hand wind shift enabled BARKER to squeeze up to Alinghi and bounce the Defender away to the right. NZL 92 tactician Terry HUTCHINSON (USA) held on for a minute before tacking over to the right.
When a small left-hand shift came through, the Kiwis lifted away from the Swiss and led around the first mark by 14 seconds. Downwind the Swiss boat looked very fast and Alinghi spent the run threatening to pass the Kiwis, whose saving grace was its better gybes.
At the bottom gate, BAIRD steered the boat aggressively deep towards the starboard leeward mark, making a bee line for the right while the Kiwis - still leading - took the left. The gap at this stage was 11 seconds to the Kiwis, who held on for a couple of minutes before tacking to parallel Alinghi out to the right. Alinghi was looking stuck out there, but when Alinghi skipper Brad BUTTERWORTH (NZL) sensed a slight shift to the right, he called for a tack, and the game got a lot tighter. A tacking duel ensued, with the Swiss gaining on every tack until they managed to force New Zealand to tack to leeward.
The boats tracked each other up to the windward mark, with the Defender now 16 seconds ahead. Alinghi was pulling distance on the Kiwis again, so HUTCHINSON called for a series of gybes, gaining on every occasion until Alinghi disengaged and allowed a couple of splits to develop. Towards the bottom of the course New Zealand converged on Alinghi and had pulled to within two boatlengths of the leader. HUTCHINSON went for one last split to see if the right-hand side would yield something special to get them in front, but it was not to be; Alinghi gained and sailed across the finishing line 28 seconds ahead.
America's Cup Match
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The America's Cup Match and Challenger/Defender Series are designated as ISAF Special Events. For more information on the America's Cup, the Louis Vuttion Acts and the teams competing, visit the official America's Cup website - www.americascup.com.
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