Origin lives to fight another day

A close race, decided when they trapped their French opponents into a penalty, allowed Ben Ainslie and Britain's Origin challenge for the America's Cup to live for another day as they bid for a place in the challenger final of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

The Waitemata Harbour was less than summery and only one set of two races was possible as the regatta for America's Cup teams moves towards a finale which sees the local Emirates team New Zealand face up to the challenge series winner, which includes the current Cup holder, Switzerland's Alinghi.

Ainslie held a narrow lead over K-Challenge on the first, 1.6-mile leg but rounding the top mark for the first run he pushed his rival Sebastien Col into a potential collision and the Frenchman was the target of umpire flags.

Origin now faces the Italian team Damiani and the other quarter finalist, Italy's Luna Rossa lines up against BMW Oracle of America after the closest of wins over a Team China skippered by Britain's world match racing champion Ian Williams.

Luna Rossa skipper Peter Holmberg had also incurred a penalty in the pre-start but had established a lead which just about gave him time to put in a penalty turn before the finish line.

It was a close run thing. If the rules had been normal, Williams would have won because his spinnaker crossed the line first. But the rules say that it is the first hull to cross the line which is the winner. The margin given officially was one second to Holmberg, but even principle race officer Peter Reggio thought it was probably less than that.

Williams goes on to try for a third consecutive world\match racing championship, starting in Marseille next month. He said he was "disappointed to have lost the sudden death race. But we feel we have held our own, we haven't embarrassed ourselves, and we have won some respect from the top teams."

In Albany, the New York Court of Appeals was preparing to hear the final submissions from Oracle and Alinghi in their dispute about the structure of the next America's Cup.

Oracle claims it should be the challenger of record, in place of Alinghi's chosen Club Nautico Espanol de Vela.

Oracle lawyer Maureen Mahoney has a final 15 minutes to make her case, Alinghi's Barry Ostrager 13 and the CNEV's David W. Rivkin seven. Any of the seven judges can interrupt submissions and ask questions. Any rebuttals by the opposition come out of their allocated argument time.

It is expected that the court will take at least six weeks to consider and hand down its decision.

In the Vendée Globe solo round the world race, Sam Davies has moved up to third place on the water as Marc Guillemot, nursing his boat over the final 1,000 miles with no keel, moves to fourth but has 50 hours in hand.

After the second inshore race for the Volvo round the world race fleet in Qingdao, China, the standings, going into the fifth, 12,300-mile leg to Rio de Janeiro, are: 1, Ericsson 4, 49pts; 2, Telefonica Blue, 45; 3, Puma, 41; 4, Green Dragon, 30; 5, Ericsson 3, 24; 6, Telefonica Black, 21; 7, Delta Lloyd, 12. Team Russia has retired from racing. Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Black are being shipped to Rio de Janeiro. Ericsson 3 is being repaired in Taiwan.

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