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Alinghi opens up 3-0 America's Cup lead

Alinghi outsailed Team New Zealand for the third race in a row Keystone

Switzerland's Alinghi team has taken a commanding 3-0 lead over Team New Zealand in the battle for the America's Cup.

This content was published on February 18, 2003 - 08:42

The Swiss challenger has now moved within two races of becoming the first European team - and landlocked country - to win sport's oldest trophy.

No team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win an America's Cup match in the 152-year history of the competition.

Alinghi led from start to finish to claim the third race in the best-of-nine series by 23 seconds.

"Three-nil, it's incredible. It's an amazing position to be in," said Alinghi executive director Michel Bonnefous.

Once again the tactical decision-making and experience of Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts secured victory for the Swiss, grabbing the advantage before and after the start, and never letting it slip.

In the previous race, the Swiss managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat after an amazing manoeuvre within sight of the finish line.

Record win

Coutts has now stretched his record unbeaten run in America's Cup races to 12.

"That was a good race for us. The most significant call was from the weather team to go right," said Coutts.

Alinghi set up its latest victory by favouring the right side of the six-leg, 18.5 nautical mile course in Hauraki Gulf off Auckland.

Team New Zealand, skippered by Dean Barker, plumped for the left side of the course and could only watch helplessly as Alinghi opened up a substantial lead within minutes of the starting gun.

Alinghi soon led by more than 200 metres and rounded the first mark 28 seconds ahead.

Barker's crew nibbled away at the lead over the next three legs in winds of between 11 and 13 knots, cutting the deficit to 15 seconds at the fourth mark.

However, the Kiwis were unable to lure their opponents into making a mistake, and the Swiss pulled away over the final two legs.

swissinfo with agencies

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