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Team NZ tames Alinghi to take Pacific Series

TEAM New Zealand won three straight races yesterday to beat America's Cup-holder Alinghi 3-1 in the best-of-five race final of the Pacific Series sailing regatta off Auckland.

New Zealand came into the final day trailing 0-1 after losing the first race on Friday, but beat Alinghi by 29, 33 and 20 seconds in consecutive races to claim the series title.

Bad blood simmered between the teams throughout the regatta. Alinghi refused to race Team New Zealand at their first scheduled meeting in the round-robin stages and protested the regatta format prior to the finals.

Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker outsailed Alinghi's American helmsman Ed Baird in all three races on the regatta's final day and New Zealand was superior tactically and in boat handling to the Swiss team.

New Zealand won the starts in each race and was able to lead at the top mark.

"We sat down last night and again this morning and we figured we needed to keep doing things exactly as we were, and at some point things would change," Barker said.

"The guys, with their belief and everything else, we managed to come out and sail a very good day today."

In the final race yesterday, Team New Zealand won a tacking duel to lead by 28 seconds at the first mark. Alinghi struggled to set its spinnaker on the first downwind leg, but closed on Team New Zealand before the bottom mark.

Team New Zealand hiked its lead on the second beat, then pulled away as Alinghi had more spinnaker problems on the run to the finish.

Alinghi's New Zealand-born skipper Brad Butterworth congratulated Team New Zealand on its win. "It's been three weeks of very good sailing here, although obviously we don't sail very well in the rain," he said.

The Pacific Series involved 10 teams from America's Cup racing, which is currently inactive because of a legal spat between Alinghi and America's Oracle Racing, being heard by the New York Court of Appeals.


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