Conner facing his final curtain

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The Independent Online
Dennis Conner missed one of two chances to win the America's Cup defence job on Monday when he was beaten by Kevin Mahaney's Pact '95, which broke a run of losses with a couple of dollops of good luck to lead all the way and win by 52 seconds.

That made yet another do-or-die encounter out of yesterday's meeting with Mahaney. The other defence contender, the 15 women and one man of Bill Koch's America3 boat Mighty Mary, had decided to support Mahaney against Conner, sharing weather information and boat-speed tuning.

Conner must now win today's race against America3 to advance to meet the challenger, Team New Zealand. A win would have secured the Citizen Cup, but under the 11th-hour deal that allowed him to survive the defender semi-finals and join an unusual three-boat final, he agreed to be eliminated if the three teams ended tied.

Conner, reportedly receiving death threats on top of everything else, is not so happy having to fight against two syndicates, but Mahaney said: "It was nice to have another boat out there today. We really appreciate the support they gave us. We had pretty good speed and were able to hold off Dennis and his charge. We'll do whatever we can to assist our esteemed colleagues at Mighty Mary. It's in our best interests to have a tie."

Conner's tactician, Tom Whidden, said he had never come across anything like it in six Cups, but the defence committee chairman, Wytie Cable, said he could find nothing in the rules against it.

Cable also said that the three supervising Cup trustees had still not found time to discuss objections by Team New Zealand, to proposals by the defence that, contrary to expectations, syndicates should be allowed to change their boats both during the best-of-nine series and after they are measured in and displayed to the public. The Cup proper starts on 6 May, but conditions have still not been agreed and signed.

CITIZEN CUP (for defenders) Final: Race 11: Pact '95 bt Stars & Stripes, 52sec. Standings: 1= Stars & Stripes, Pact '95, 5pts; 3 America3, 4.

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