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Third Louis Vuitton Cup win for Italian team Luna Rossa puts them in touching distance of final

One more victory would see them through to the final where Emirates Team New Zealand await

A third consecutive win in the Louis Vuitton Cup eliminations trials for the America’s Cup put the Prada-backed Italian team Luna Rossa within one victory of meeting Emirates Team New Zealand in the final later this month.

The Palermo-based Italians beat Sweden’s Artemis Racing by a minute and 18 seconds with both boats showing steady improvement in the way they handle the 72-foot wing-powered catamarans. The Swedes were pleased with their day’s work; the Italians, with Britain’s Chris Draper at the helm, looked more comfortable.

The fourth race in the best of seven on San Francisco Bay is scheduled for Saturday evening, UK time. It could prove to be a farewell lap of honour for the Swedes, skippered by double gold and silver Olympic medallist Iain Percy, who have had to recover from the destruction of their earlier boat in a training accident that killed Percy’s Olympic partner, Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

The winner of the Louis Vuitton final meets the American defender Oracle in a best of 17 starting on 7 September.

In Chicago, reigning world match racing champion Ian Williams scored 9 wins to two losses in the fourth round, of six, in the Alpari championship. Both the quarter and semi-finals should be completed.

Williams and his Team GAC Pindar lead the 2013 series as he seeks a record fifth world title. The remaining two regattas are in Bermuda and, scoring double points, Malaysia.

Life was more difficult for Britain’s 470 dinghy squad at the world championship in La Rochelle. Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, racing together after a 10-month lay-off, have failed to make the cut for the medal race decider on Saturday and while Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre, daughter of 1988 gold medallist Mike, will contest the final their fifth place is 10 points from making even the bronze medal position.

There are just eight boats in the men’s final with Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield, once third overall, 13 points away from a medal.