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19 June 2005, 08:33 am
Alinghi And Emirates Team New Zealand Share Lead
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America's Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

It was a grand day of racing in Valencia on Saturday as conditions and match-ups conspired to provide some spectacular action.
On the weather side, it was the best race day to date, with 10-12 knot Southeasterlies building over the afternoon to 14 knots before easing at the end of the day on the North course.

The spectator fleet reflected the action on the water with both race courses busy on the first weekend day of racing in the America's Cup this year.

The opening flight was going to break a four-boat logjam at the top of the leaderboard as Alinghi was paired with its rival from the last Louis Vuitton Cup, BMW ORACLE Racing on the South course, while further North, Emirates Team New Zealand faced Luna Rossa.

The Defender of the 32nd America's Cup, Alinghi, led off the starting line after a fairly tame pre-start. Alinghi helmsman Peter HOLMBERG was able to force his counterpart on USA 76 into a tack just before the gun and the Swiss boat led off the line with speed. Holmberg protected the left side of the course up the beat, forcing BMW ORACLE Racing to the layline early where they had no choice but to follow him to the top mark. American skipper John KOSTECKI fought hard, but he couldn't come back, and Alinghi took the win.

Meanwhile Emirates Team New Zealand had a tough match with Luna Rossa. The Italians led early, but Kiwi skipper Dean BARKER found a favourable shift up the beat and managed to neutralise that lead. The boats went around the top mark virtually tied, and swapped the lead back and forth on the first run. But NZL 82 found a puff of wind when it needed it and burst ahead just before the leeward gate. The Kiwis chose the right side of the course and this paid off as they held their lead the rest of the way.

The result leaves Alinghi and Emirates Team New Zealand alone at the top of the table with the Italians and Americans close behind. The two leaders aren't due to face each other until Monday.

It was also a good day for the locals, as Desafío Español 2007 won both of its races on the day and sits alone in fifth place, one point up on the charging Swedes. Victory Challenge split its races, following a win over Shosholoza with a tough loss to Luna Rossa. The Swedish team is turning heads as its relatively late start to the current campaign isn't holding them back.

Mascalzone Latino-Capitialia Team earned its first win of the regatta in its match over the German squad. That leaves Shosholoza as the lone team yet to earn a point at the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts.

Iain PERCY's +39 Challenge can take encouragement from two things on the day. First, he beat China Team to pick up another important point. Then in his match against Emirates Team New Zealand, despite picking up a penalty in the pre-start, the Italians were able to hold close to the Kiwis around the race course, showing they've moved up a step from the 2004 season.

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