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With third straight win, things aligned for Alinghi

VALENCIA, Spain -- Alinghi is getting used to winning the hard way. Fortunately for the Swiss team, it only has to do it one more time.

Alinghi moved within one victory of retaining the America's Cup after its second straight come-from-behind win against Team New Zealand yesterday to lead the best-of-nine series, 4-2.

Alinghi has won the last three races, while Emirates Team New Zealand must win the next three races.

"I certainly prefer to be in my position than Team New Zealand's," Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli said.

The seventh race is scheduled for today.

The Swiss boat swept the Kiwis, 5-0, in 2003 to bring the Cup back to Europe for the first time since the inaugural competition 152 years earlier, but this has shaped up to be one of the closest contests in Cup history.

"Every single shift [in wind] can change the result," Bertarelli added. "This is an opportunity to see what sailing is all about."

After trailing near the start, the Swiss slowly made ground on the Kiwis during the second leg, cutting their lead to 11 seconds around the marker as the boats set sail up the third lap.

New Zealand's advantage line on the flat water held despite the boats sailing far apart in a split. But not for long.

"With one or two minutes to go to lay line, things turned around pretty dramatically," Kiwi helmsman Dean Barker said.

The SUI-100 boat surged ahead on the right of the NZL-92 yacht, rounding the top mark with a 16-second lead.

The Kiwis used a series of gybes to pull within a boat length, but Alinghi took a more direct route over the final quarter to win by 28 seconds.