The Kiwis return

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JUNE 7 — After winning its fifth consecutive race and sweeping Italy’s Luna Rossa to take the Louis Vuitton Cup Wednesday, the next step for Emirates Team New Zealand is to compete against the defending Swiss syndicate Alinghi for the America’s Cup.

People aboard hundreds of spectator boats gathered off Valencia, Spain, to witness the Kiwi and Italian teams — the final two challengers still remaining in the competition — battle neck and neck until the end of the race, a press release says. On the final leg, Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker pulled his boat ahead and crossed the finish 22 seconds ahead of the Italians.

Team New Zealand also beat Luna Rossa during the 2000 America’s Cup, taking the prestigious award for the second time. The Kiwis lost the Cup in 2003 to Alinghi when a number of its crew, led by two-time Cup winning skipper Russell Coutts, defected to the Swiss team.

Emirates Team New Zealandwill challenge Alinghi for the America's Cup beginning June 23 in a best-of-nine competition.

Jason Fell