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Prada Leads America’s Cup

November 16, 1999

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) _ Italy’s Prada increased its lead in the America’s Cup challenger series Tuesday, beating Young America with the help of a late mistake.

The Prada syndicate, competing for the first time for yachting’s most prized trophy, is 17-1 in the first two round-robins of the challenger series.

Prada, which has lost only to America’s Cup veteran Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes, has 38 points, 12 more than second-place America True. Stars and Stripes is second at 24.5, followed by Young America and AmericaOne at 24 each.

Eleven syndicates are competing in the three round-robin elimination series for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The winner will face defender Team New Zealand early next year for the America’s Cup.

Under sunny skies with a breeze of about 13 knots, Prada skipper Francesco de Angelis outmaneuvered Young America’s Ed Baird to take the lead at the start.

In a tight race with Baird fighting hard from behind, the yachts engaged in tacking duels upwind and gybing duels downwind for four legs of the six-leg race.

As Young America rounded the mark after the second downwind run, it left up its huge spinnaker sail until the last second before trying a tricky maneuver to bring it down.

The maneuver _ which involves the skipper steering the boat underneath the sagging sail as crewmen work to bring it in _ backfired, with the sail collapsing into the sea and tangling around the keel, bringing the boat to a near-stop.

Crewmen rushed to cut the sail free, but Prada was able to open an unassailable lead to finish some 15 boat-lengths in front, with a margin of 1 minute, 14 seconds.

In other races Tuesday, San Francisco’s America True defeated Young Australia by 2 minutes, 10 seconds to move into second place; Stars and Stripes beat Spanish challenge by 50 seconds to take third place; AmericaOne defeated Hawaii’s Abracadabra by 2 minutes, 52 seconds; and the French challenge defeated Switzerland’s Fast 2000 by 1 minute, 2 seconds.

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