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De Angelis, Cutler and Salthouse Move Up To Main Event

Auckland, NZ, March 22, 1999-- Competition in the Steinlager Line 7 Cup match racing series in Auckland, NZ, started Saturday, March 20 with a Preliminary Series to decide the final three starters. The Principal Series starts Tuesday, March 23 and finishes Sunday, March 28. The format is two round robins, followed by a best-of-seven semi-finals and a best-of-seven finals. Short of the America's Cup, this year's Steinlager Line 7 Cup match race regatta has attracted one of the most powerful line-ups of match racers ever assembled in Auckland. The regatta has a hall of fame look about it with six of the seven skippers in the main draw either current or former America's Cup helmsmen.

PRESS RELEASE: March 22, 1999

Two of the three America's Cup crews competing in the preliminary series of the Steinlager Line 7 Cup advanced to the main event in Auckland today, while the third available slot was taken by local skipper Dean Salthouse and his crew.

Salthouse appeared just barely in the reckoning at the start of the third and final Round Robin, but in his first match he took the scalp of America True helmsman John Cutler. On that platform, he built a steady climb up the order to clinch the third and final place in the main draw with two flights of matches left to sail.

By then, Francesco de Angelis of the Prada Challenge and Cutler had already staked their claims to a place in the main event as well.

But, even though the regatta had done its work in selecting the three qualifiers, racing continued to the end.

In the final flight, de Angelis and Cutler faced off against each other. De Angelis had won both previous encounters, but this time Cutler took charge and crossed the line well ahead to level their scores at 12 wins apiece.

On countback, de Angelis emerged as the top scorer, with Cutler second and Salthouse third. James Spithill, who is likely to helm the Syd Fischer America's Cup challenge from Australia, took a consolation win off Cutler today, but did not make it through to the main event which starts on Wednesday and will see eight out of 10 skippers either with current or former America's Cup credentials.

For Cutler and de Angelis, wins in the main event become part of scoring points off their America's Cup opposition. "It is a question of establishing the pecking order," said Cutler. "Even though it does not have any real bearing on the America's Cup, scoring victories in the Steinlager Line 7 Cup is important from a morale point of view."

For Salthouse and his crew, though, no such pressure exists. "If we go up against a couple of America's Cup crews and beat them, that's great. We will really enjoy it. We do not get to campaign overseas, or come up against these guys in normal competition, so this will just be excellent experience for us."

Already in the main event are Gavin Brady, currently ranked No.2 in the world and until recently a helmsman for America True, British veteran Chris Law, who has helmed in two America's Cup campaigns, former world champion Ed Baird, currently skipper of Young America, Magnus Holmberg of Sweden, Dean Barker of Team New Zealand, Paul Cayard, skipper of AmericaOne, and New Zealand ace, Chris Dickson.

Preliminary series results

Francesco de Angelis (ITA) 12 pts
John Cutler (USA) 12 pts
Dean Salthouse (NZL) 10 pts
Ian Williams (GBR) 8.5 pts
Phil Douglas (NZL) 7 pts
James Spithill (AUS) 7 pts
Cameron Miles (AUS) 6 pts

For more about this major match race series go to the Steinlager Line Seven Cup official web site. Also visit the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron site. For more in this series of reports, look at AmericaOne's Grand Prix Sailing News page.

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