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18 February 2003, 09:39 am
Alinghi Goes Three Up
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Alinghi in Race 3© Carlo Borlenghi

America's Cup
Hauraki Gulf, Auckland

Alinghi is in charge of the 31st America's Cup Match after winning the third race in the best of nine series on Tuesday. The Swiss Challenger now holds a 3 - 0 lead over the Defender, Team New Zealand.
Race Three started in a 10-12 knot Northwesterly. The wind shifted back and forth across 45-degrees throughout the race, and at times hit 17-knots late in the piece.

Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts changed his mind midway through the pre-start, opting to take the right hand side of the course on the start line and nearly immediately realised a huge gain as the wind shifted dramatically in his favour. The lead Coutts built in the first five minutes of the race would carry him the rest of the way around the course.

Team New Zealand worked hard to minimise the damage on that first leg and slowly chipped away at the Alinghi lead over the next four legs.

But Kiwi skipper Dean Barker ran out of time as Alinghi protected its lead ferociously, especially on the final run to the finish, when Barker was given few options to attack.

Russell Coutts equalled Harold 'Mike' Vanderbilt with his 12th win in the America's Cup. Only Cup legend Dennis Conner, with 13, has more.

Team New Zealand must now win five races before Alinghi wins just two more if it is to successfully defend the America's Cup.

Race Four is scheduled to start at 13:15 on Thursday.

31ST AMERICA'S CUP MATCH

Alinghi (SUI-64) beat Team New Zealand (NZL-82) - Delta: 0:23
Alinghi leads Team New Zealand in the best-of-nine series, 3 - 0.

Race three of the America's Cup saw a very different style of pre-start manoeuvring between the pair with NZL-82 slipping across Alinghi's bow on port tack. By doing this, there was no dial up and Alinghi chased NZL-82 deeper into the starting box.

As the early stages of the race was to prove, gaining the right hand side of the start and the course was the correct strategy, at least in the initial stages. Aboard Alinghi it was tactician Brad Butterworth who called for the right hand side of the course and his team delivered the goods, crossing the start line second perfect on port tack at the Committee Boat end.

NZL-82 started on starboard at the pin end, half a boat length behind at the gun.

A few minutes later and the anticipated right hand shift up the beat started to pay dividends for Alinghi who pulled out a 200m lead. Eventually, as the boats approached the top of the course the breeze swung back to the left and allowed Team New Zealand to reduce this early margin, rounding the weather mark 28 seconds behind.

Just three gybes punctuated the first downwind leg and once again it was the last few minutes that allowed Team New Zealand to haul back another precious few metres, rounding the leeward mark 20 seconds behind the Swiss team.

And so the pattern continued, with Team New Zealand hauling back three more seconds on the second upwind leg and a further two on the second downwind leg to hang in 15 seconds behind.

But in the end, Alinghi's flawless performance provided no further opportunities for Team New Zealand to slip into the lead, despite getting within striking distance. In the end Alinghi crossed the finish line 23 seconds ahead to take their third race in a row.

America's Cup Media/ISAF News Editor
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