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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 03:30 GMT
Alinghi take Cup stranglehold
Alinghi and Team New Zealand
Alinghi and Team New Zealand
Swiss challengers Alinghi took a 3-0 lead in the America's Cup as they beat Team New Zealand by 23 seconds in the latest race.

Alinghi held the lead throughout the six-leg, 18.5 nautical mile race, but never stretched away from Team New Zealand in moderate and shifting winds on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

It was a record 12th America's Cup victory for Alinghi helmsman Russell Coutts, who skippered Team New Zealand to victories in 1995 and 1999.

We've made two mistakes and that's two mistakes too many and it's cost us the points
Team NZ skipper Dennis Barker

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

However this is only the third time the cup has been run as a best-of-nine series.

From the off, Coutts took the more advantageous right-hand side of the course and rounded the first mark with a 28-second advantage.

Team New Zealand clawed back eight seconds on the second leg and three more in the third.

And they closed within 1.5 lengths on leg four, but their hopes were dashed by a poorly timed tack on leg five.

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

His opposite number Dean Barker was understandably disappointed.

"We've made two mistakes and that's two mistakes too many and it's cost us the points," said Barker.

"Three-nil down is not a nice place to be."

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