Emirates Team New Zealand was in command all the way around the racecourse today to win the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Auckland in emphatic style. After a close first leg in which Mascalzone Latino Audi briefly took the lead, ETNZ rounded the first mark eight seconds ahead then, in a display of immaculate yacht racing, extended that lead on every leg to finish with a 56-second margin. It was a swift end to a final that could have gone to seven races but, with an overnight forecast for light and variable winds, had been reduced by the principal race officer, Peter Reggio, to best-of five. This morning, with a postponement until noon and a requirement to start the last race no later than 3.30pm, it became best-of-three. With ETNZ fired up from winning its first finals race yesterday and carrying one point over to today, that meant a sudden-death match for ML Audi. In the end, it was a very short day on the water for both the teams and the spectator fleet of more than 100 boats. "It's very satisfying to be sailing as well as we know we can, again," said ETNZ's skipper, Dean Barker. "This regatta has been very good for us. We lost two races and that is where we learnt the most; it's definitely better to get mistakes out of the way early. It's character-building for the team to bounce back when things are stacked against us." Morgan Larson, the tactician on Mascalzone Latino Audi, which is the Challenger of Record for the 34th America's Cup, put their loss down to a miscommunication among the afterguard at the first mark. "I'll hold my hand up for that one," he said. Acknowledging ETNZ's performance, Larson added: "We're never happy being second. But we knew we were up against the top team and, on paper, we were not among the top two." This regatta, which the participants see as a proving ground for a potential America's Cup challenge, has seen all of the teams raise their game. "Our goal was to improve our position after Nice," said Stéphane Kandler, the chief executive of the Franco-German team All4One. "We did that by being just one race away from the semi-final. If you have any aim to be involved in the America's Cup you had to be here." Before presenting the Louis Vuitton Trophy, Yves Carcelle, the chairman and chief executive of Louis Vuitton, said, "Now I hope the Cup will revive. In the meantime, we have seen in the last few days an amazing sport competition." The Louis Vuitton Trophy moves to La Maddalena in Sardinia, Italy in May, followed by the UAE in November, where it will be hosted by Dubai International Marina Club, and Hong Kong in January 2011. firstname.lastname@example.org
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