Alinghi takes 3-2 lead in America's Cup

Alinghi sails into the lead as team New Zealand grapples with a damaged spinnaker Keystone

Alinghi have taken a step closer to winning their second America's Cup in a row, going up 3-2 in the best of nine series against team New Zealand.

This content was published on June 29, 2007 - 16:38

Defending champion Alinghi won by 19 seconds on Friday, taking advantage of a torn sail suffered by the Kiwi yacht during the second leg of the race in Valencia, Spain.

Both teams utilized the strong sea breeze that was still climbing as the hot weather heated up the course at the start of the race.

Alinghi came off the start on the right after both yachts sailed out beyond the box and into the spectator fleet, looking to move around the stationary yachts and gain a tactical advantage.

The NZL-92 yacht, which had a new keel bulb fitted, disproved talk that the stronger wind conditions were better suited to the SUI-100 boat. The Kiwis rounded the first marker with a 12-second advantage.

But as they were heading downwind they spotted a hole in their red spinnaker. As they were preparing to hoist the replacement sail, the 500-square-metre spinnaker ripped in two and flew into the air.

And the second spinnaker was not tied on properly so it just fluttered from the top of the mast like a flag.

Third spinnaker

Even though the third spinnaker got tangled half way up, the New Zealand crew kept their heads, managed to untwist it and cut the other two free.

"That was an important race and it wasn't one we should have lost on a mistake on a move we've practised time and again," said Grant Dalton, managing director for Team New Zealand, which won the Cup in 1995 and 2000, but lost to Alinghi in 2003.

The New Zealand boat made up time during the final leg but it was not enough to overcome Alinghi's huge lead.

"[New Zealand] sailed very well, it's a very strong group and we have to fight every race," Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli said.

The sixth flight of racing is scheduled for Saturday.

Alinghi's second straight win put the Swiss back in control of the closest series in 24 years to win the Auld Mug, the oldest trophy in international sport.

In 1983, Australia II came from behind on the final leg to take the America's Cup from the United States for the first time in its then 132-year history.

swissinfo with agencies

The Cup

The inaugural race was held off the Isle of Wight in 1851. America dominated the race right up until 1983 when Australia won the trophy.

In 1995 New Zealand became only the third country to win the competition, successfully defending their title in 2000.

The Swiss syndicate Alinghi sailed to victory against Black Magic in 2003 and became the first European team to win the Auld Mug.

The 2007 America's Cup off the coast of Spain started on June 23 and runs until July 7 at the latest.

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Some Background

Yachts: a construction class is based around a formula or set of restrictions that the boat's measurements must fit to be accepted. The America's Cup is the most famous competition involving construction class boats.

Racing: harbour or buoy races are conducted in protected waters, and are quite short, usually taking anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. The most famous such event is the America's Cup.

This kind of race is most commonly run over one or more laps of a triangular course marked by a number of buoys.

In the America's Cup, the course is specifically set out to test the balance between boat speed and match racing ability in a team. The course is up to 18.55 nautical miles (34.35 kilometres) in length and consists of up to three laps of a right-handed windward-leeward course between a windward (upwind) mark at the top of the course and a leeward (downwind) gate near the bottom of the course. The start and finish line are the same.

Speed: one (international) knot is equal to 1.852 kilometres per hour.

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