Sailing: Alinghi take hollow win in America's Cup prelude

In the topsy-turvy new world of the America's Cup, the first warm-up regatta here under the new points system saw the runaway, unbeaten winner, the defending Alinghi team from Switzerland, promptly have to throw the points they had earned into the bin.

In the topsy-turvy new world of the America's Cup, the first warm-up regatta here under the new points system saw the runaway, unbeaten winner, the defending Alinghi team from Switzerland, promptly have to throw the points they had earned into the bin.

Yes, they will count towards a 2005 championship series to be decided over six series of races, but, in the great scheme of things, they will count for nothing when it comes to crunch time, the 32nd cup defence in June 2007. For that, Ernesto Bertarelli automatically has one of the two places in the final. The other will be fought over by the 11 challengers and, apart from the embarrassingly whitewashed South Africans, all of them have to show their new boats.

On the two courses off the Mediterranean city, the racing conditions have steadily improved, making the pre-start jostling for advantage all the more important, something which hugely benefited Team New Zealand when winning their final race against BMW Oracle yesterday.

The regatta switches from one-on-one match racing to all 12 racing as a fleet, five races over three days, beginning on Friday.

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