Team New Zealand at Valencia, 2007

Team New Zealand at Valencia, 2007

Alinghi (left) and NZL 92 (right) in race one of the 2007 America’s Cup challenge held off Valencia, Spain. The Swiss holders won by 35 seconds and went on to win the series 5-2.

The Alinghi syndicate, established in 2000 by the Italian-born Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, raced under the auspices of the Société Nautique de Genève. After lifting the cup from New Zealand in Auckland in 2003, the landlocked Swiss put the hosting rights for their first defence out to tender. The four finalists were Cascais (near Lisbon), Marseille, Naples and Valencia, with the Spanish city winning out.

Team New Zealand, with the experienced Grant Dalton as syndicate boss and Dean Barker as skipper, defeated the local entrant Desafío Español 5-2 in the Louis Vuitton challenger series semi-final. They then thrashed the Italian boat Luna Rossa 5-0 to set up a chance for redemption.

Holders Alinghi, then skippered by former New Zealand helmsman Russell Coutts, had won the cup in New Zealand in 2003. Coutts was still involved in the Swiss syndicate in 2007, but it was another former Team New Zealand crew member, Brad Butterworth, who was at the helm. The Kiwis took a 2-1 lead before Alinghi won four consecutive races to take the series 5-2. In the last race, the winning margin was just 1 second.

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