SAILING from San Diego
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The Independent Online

reports from San Diego

Obituaries were being ripped up in handfuls on Saturday afternoon as Bill Koch's America3 won another life by beating Kevin Mahaney's Pact '95 in a do-or-die race which went smoothly and conclusively their way on a glorious, sunny afternoon.

The score in the three-way final to defend the America's Cup for the United States next month stood at five points to Dennis Conner; and four each to America3 and Pact '95. Last night's abandoned race between Conner and Pact should, therefore, have had significant implications. It was scheduled to go ahead despite a national day of mourning for the victims of the Oklahoma bombing, but had to be postponed for a day because of shifting winds.

If Conner wins the rescheduled race today that will give him the right to defend; if he loses, that will give him a second chance against Cubed; and if he lost that, he would be the one to go out. They would all be even on five points and, under the deal which allowed all three to continue, Conner, at that time placed third, would be the one to go. There would then be a sail-off between Pact and Cubed tomorrow on a sudden-death basis.

That the position has arisen at all was a matter of bewildering confusion to the favourites (Pact); a source of some amusement to the man who has made a remarkable comeback (Conner); and frustration for those whose fate now lies in the hands of others (the Cubens). By staging a world-class event on such a lottery of a race track, the concept of skill being rewarded has been effectively defeated.

The Cubed skipper, Leslie Egnot, said they would all be praying for Pact to win yesterday. Lisa Charles said the 15 women and one man all had good- luck charms with them when beating Pact, right down to their underpants.

CITIZEN CUP Final: Race 10: America3 bt Pact '95, 1min 08sec. Standings: 1 Team Dennis Conner 5pts; 2 Pact '95 4pts; 3 America3 4pts.