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New Zealand breaks through for win

VALENCIA, Spain -- For a change there will be no sweep in the America's Cup.

Emirates Team New Zealand came from behind yesterday for a surprising win against seemingly unbeatable Swiss defender Alinghi. The victory evened the best-of-nine series, 1-1, and ended a string of one-sided blowouts to restore a sense of competition to the quest for the Auld Mug, the oldest trophy in international sports.

It is the first time since 1992 -- four campaigns past -- that the America's Cup will not be a sweep.

The win also snapped Alinghi's six-race winning streak that dates to its 5-0 victory over the Kiwis in 2003.

"It's been a long time coming to turn the tables," said New Zealand strategist Ray Davies. "It's been huge for the team to get a win on the board."

New Zealand's skipper, the 34-year-old Dean Barker, finally got the better of former teammate Brad Butterworth, the skipper aboard Alinghi, and ended Butterworth's record of 16 straight wins in America's Cup racing, starting when he was a tactician in the Kiwis' successful 1995 campaign.

"I'll get over it," Butterworth said about his first cup loss in 12 years.

Alinghi was formed in 2000 by Swiss biotech billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, who recruited heavily from the Kiwis' cup winners, including Butterworth, to win the Auld Mug in 2003, sparking fury in New Zealand.

For New Zealander John Boscawen, who flew in from Auckland Friday to watch the races, the victory was sweet.

"It was absolutely fantastic," he said. "Dean Barker has been beaten six times by our own countrymen. Winning this time must be a huge psychological boost."

In the race, New Zealand took a three-second lead at the start, but Alinghi's fast new boat quickly passed the Kiwis and built a 19-second advantage.

The SUI100 stayed ahead, making it look all but certain that the Swiss would take the day and move ahead to 2-0, possibly setting up fifth straight sweep of the Cup.

The Kiwis bounced back by cutting Alinghi's lead to 13 seconds around the second mark and then gained up the left side of the course on the third leg.

"When we came back together again . . . we just didn't put the boat in the right place," Butterworth said.

"We should have tacked closer."

Emirates Team New Zealand pushed ahead of Alinghi and had the advantage around the final marker, leading through the final beat to win by 28 seconds.

"It was Alinghi's first defeat in the America's Cup and I hope it will be the last," said Bertarelli, who sailed aboard Alinghi as part of the afterguard.