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STARS AND STRIPES SAILS TO SLIM ONE-SECOND WIN

Dennis Conner and John Bertrand just won't go away from the America's Cup.

Skilled at the stretch runs needed to win the prized trophy, yachting's elder statesmen each provided a dramatic win in the trials on Saturday.Bertrand had the stunner, as his oneAustralia snapped Team New Zealand's string of 35 straight wins on the water. Two races away from elimination, the scrappy Aussies took the lead at the start and stayed ahead the entire 18.55 miles for a 15-second victory.

Team New Zealand still leads the best-of-9 challenger finals 3-1, but no one had beaten either of the Kiwi black boats since the trials started in mid-January. New Zealand's only losses in the standings came when one victory was overturned on a protest by oneAustralia, and when it forfeited two races at the end of the semifinals in order to test its two boats.

Black Magic 1 had become so dominant that it led at all six marks in its previous nine races.

OneAustralia had led the Kiwis at the first four marks of a semifinal race on March 22, but was simply overrun by the speedier black boat and lost by 39 seconds.

OneAustralia rounded the fifth mark with a 15-second lead on Saturday and kept that margin on the 3.3-mile spinnaker run to the finish.

Other than Bertrand saying, "Good job, fellas," the crew seemed restrained.

Bertrand is trying to win the America's Cup with his backup boat following the sinking of his frontline sailboat on March 5. Bertrand won the trophy in 1983 when he beat Conner to end the New York Yacht Club's 132-year winning streak.

Minutes after oneAustralia's upset, Conner's Stars & Stripes had a heart-stopping win as it poked its navy blue nose across the the finish line 1 second ahead of PACT 95's Young America.

The biggest margin at any mark on Saturday was when oneAustralia led by 18 seconds at the halfway point.

It was as gripping as yacht racing can get off San Diego, where just three days earlier the wind fell off to nearly nothing and the yachts were left marooned as the time limits expired. On Saturday, wind ranged from 9-15 knots.

After losing his last three races of the semifinals, Conner has won three straight to pull into a 3-3 tie with Young America in the Citizen Cup finals.

Conner, a three-time America's Cup winner, can take his first lead of the finals if Stars & Stripes beats America3's Mighty Mary on Sunday. Mighty Mary is third with two points.

Young America sailed its second race with a winged rudder designed to give it more speed upwind.

After trailing by 15 seconds at the end of the downwind fourth leg, Young America pulled even about three-quarters of the way up the windward fifth leg. But Stars & Stripes, steered at that point by Paul Cayard, made an aggressive move by crossing ahead of Young America, which had the right of way on starboard tack.

The boats cleared by about two feet, and a protest by Young America was waved off. Stars & Stripes had an 8-second lead at the top mark, where it had trouble hoisting its spinnaker for the final leg.

Young America tried to block Stars & Stripes' wind, but Conner's yacht had just enough to match the closest finish of the regatta.

OneAustralia had a little more breathing room, but its margin at times was less than a boat length as the Trans-Tasman rivals threw their 75-foot yachts at each other in long, exhausting tacking duels on all three windward legs.

The two boats began a tacking duel even before they hit the starting line, where oneAustralia enjoyed a 12-second advantage as helmsman Rod Davis won the start for the fourth straight race.