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.
New Zealand came into the final day trailing 1-0 after losing the first race on Friday, but beat Alinghi by 29 seconds, 33 seconds 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.
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 broadened its margin on the second beat, then pulled away as Alinghi had more spinnaker problems on the run to the finish.
The teams had raced twice previously in multi-race finals.
Alinghi beat Team New Zealand 5-0 in a best-of-nine series to win the America’s Cup off Auckland in 2003 and won again, 5-2, when it defended the Cup off Valencia in 2007.
The Pacific Series involved 10 teams from America’s Cup racing, which is currently inactive because of legal action between Alinghi and America’s Oracle Racing being heard by the New York Court of Appeals.