Prada, the top-rated team with the best record in this America's Cup, dodged a bullet today, rallying from behind on the next-to-last leg to beat the winless French by 18 seconds in the challenger semifinals.

A loss would have put Prada at 1-3 in the 10-race elimination round and made advancement to the two-boat finals almost impossible. That looked likely after skipper Francesco deAngelis committed a double foul as the boats approached the first downwind mark side by side.

Umpires ruled he forced French skipper Bertrand Pace to sail beyond his proper course to the turning mark, a foul. Then deAngelis was assessed a second penalty for gaining an undue advantage from the maneuver.

In today's other race, Paul Cayard's AmericaOne improved to 3-1 with a tight win over the Japanese boat Nippon, which fell to 2-2.

Stars & Stripes (3-0) and America True (1-2), the other U.S. entries, stayed ashore after Stars & Stripes won a second 24-hour delay to repair damage from a collision Wednesday. An international jury Thursday night docked the French a half-point for failing to avoid the crash. Also, Nippon filed a protest claiming Stars & Stripes used an illegal rudder in the first race of the semifinals Sunday.