FREMANTLE, Australia (AP) _ If their ''meaningless'' final semifinal race is any indication, the America's Cup defender finals between Australia IV and Kookaburra III should be quite a series.

Both boats had already secured their berth in the best-of-nine defender finals which begins Jan. 14, but Wednesday's race, won by Australia IV but awarded to Kookaburra III when a protest jury disqualified Australia IV, featured a collision between the 12-meter yachts.

The boats banged into each other on the second windward leg and Kookaburra III had a hole knocked in her bow.

''A couple of the guys went downstairs and said we'd better start pumping because we're going down,'' Kookaburra skipper Iain Murray said. He said his crew took it easy after that, allowing for the margin of defeat.

As soon as Kookaburra III reached the pier, it filed the protest - a procedure which has become almost common in this series.

Australia IV now has lost four races through disqualification in the series that has seen 43 protests filed.

With the disqualification, Kookaburra III finished first with 83 points. Australia IV, skippered by Colin Beashel and run by Alan Bond's syndicate, which won the Cup in 1983, ending the United States' 132-year reign, was second with 77, while Kookaburra II finished third, just out of the running with 70.

There was an outside chance Wednesday that Kookaburra II could be moved into the finals on the basis of a protest finding against Australia IV.

Murray said Kookaburra II was appealing the ruling that found Australia IV did not rig a balloon jib illegally in the photo finish race Tuesday that won her a final berth.

Should Australia IV lose both races by disqualification, she would finish with 71 points, and Kookaburra II would be in the finals with 76.

The international protest jury cleared the jib, called a gennaker, after a seven-hour hearing.

The winner of the defender finals will meet the winner of the best-of-seven challenger finals which starts Jan. 13. Stars & Stripes, skippered by Dennis Conner, who lost the cup in 1983, meets New Zealand, the only fiberglass yacht in the competition and winner of 37 of 38 races.