Swiss forfeit, Shosholoza bites dust at regatta series

AUCKLAND - Alinghi withdrew from its first scheduled meeting with Team New Zealand since their America's Cup finals in 2007, forfeiting their race Saturday at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series sailing regatta.

AUCKLAND - Alinghi withdrew from its first scheduled meeting with Team New Zealand since their America's Cup finals in 2007, forfeiting their race Saturday at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series sailing regatta.

Team New Zealand sailed to the race course on Auckland's Waitemata Harbor and went about its pre-start routine but Switzerland's Alinghi was a no-show for apparent tactical reasons. The New Zealand yacht crossed the start line and was awarded the race on forfeit.

Teams racing against Team New Zealand in the second stage of the regatta do not receive points counting toward overall standings, while Team New Zealand will progress directly to the series final against the strongest challenger.

Alinghi has already won two of its races in the Gold Fleet - one of two race groups - and had nothing to lose by forfeiting Saturday, while avoiding the possibility of incurring penalty points which could damage its final standing.

Alinghi and Team New Zealand last raced in the America's Cup finals series off Valencia, Spain in 2007 when the Swiss team beat the Kiwi challengers 5-2 in a best-of-seven series.

Britain's TeamOrigin won the closest race of the Pacific Series so far, nipping Italy's Luna Rossa by 4 seconds in a thrilling Gold Fleet contest.

After a delayed start and in light winds, Luna Rossa led round the first three marks but TeamOrigin seized the lead on the final run to cross the line with a boat-length advantage.

San Francisco-based BMW Oracle Racing beat the Damiani Italia Challenge by 26 seconds, breaking clear from the start.

In Silver Fleet racing, China Team retained its perfect record when it beat previously unbeaten K-Challenge of France by 57 seconds and the Greek Challenge beat South Africa's Team Shosholoza by 1 minute, 26 seconds. - Sapa-AP

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