by Selwyn Manning
YOUNG AMERICA SUFFERS MASSIVE DAMAGE - NEARLY SINKS
It was like a replay of the sinking of OneAustralia off San Francisco in 1995. The New York Yacht Club's Young America yacht split almost in two while racing in heavy wind today.
Young America suffered massive cracks in her hull and deck just behind the mast during her match against Japan's Asura.
Cracks were visible from the shear line to well under the waterline, both ends of the boat lifting from the water as the hull went banana shaped.
When the yacht began to split, crew members were forced to abandoned ship.
Two crew members returned to the striken yacht to retrieve gear. Pumps and flotation bags were taken aboard and the boat was taken under tow for home.
No crewmembers were hurt.
Other big Americas Cup challenger wins today went to Luna Rossa, the Italian yacht which continues unbeaten in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series. And, Abracadabra just beat Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes - by a mere three seconds.
ASURA WON, YOUNG
AMERICA RETIRES DAMAGED
Peter Gilmour on Asura (JPN-44) forced Young America (USA -53) to windward and to the left of the start line. Baird broke free, bore off, gybed and started at the pin end of the start line with full speed on port tack. Gilmour tried to dip towards the start line but was stalled and lost valuable seconds. Young America rounded the top mark first, 10 seconds in the lead. On the run Nippon lost a few seconds when it had to re-hoist another spinnaker. The delta increased in favour of the Americans to 21 seconds. A big left-hand shift dominated the next beat and run. Delta was 26 seconds at the last bottom mark. Gilmour was catching up. On the third beat near the windward mark Young America was leading Asura by three boat lengths when the hull of Young America experienced catastrophic structural failure and folded at deck level just behind the mast. The boats were one and a half minutes from the last weather mark at the time of the incident. Young America's crew started to get as much gear and as many sails off as possible. Most of the crew were in the chase boat already. After that the crew determined the boat wasn't going to sink immediately, some of them got back on board to set up pumps and flotation bags, and they started towing the severely damaged boat back to the dock. Nippon went on to finish the race alone.
BRAVO ESPAÑA BEAT LE DÉFI,
DELTA - 00:19
Bravo España (ESP-47) sailed by Pedro Campos won this race by a small margin, staying in control after the first half of the first weather leg and staving off a very determined and resilient Le Défi (FRA-46). Campos chased his opponent away from the line before the start, following the French boat and holding in place on Le Défi's starboard hip, before the two boats split for an even start, with the French boat starting at the pin and the Spanish at the committee boat. After one set of tacks, French skipper Bertrand Pacé sailed Campos out beyond the port tack layline. But the Spanish skipper was able to convert his small lead into a 15 second advantage at the weather mark and maintained his lead for the rest of the race.
AMERICAONE BEATS BE HAPPY, DELTA -
The Swiss be hAPpy (SUI-59) was looking to string together two wins in a row during its race against AmericaOne (USA-49). Paul Cayard however, had other ideas. The two boats started evenly, but AmericaOne pulled away by pointing higher, and this race was won on pointing ability. The Swiss couldn't match the Americans upwind, giving away 10-15 degrees to the wind. The Swiss be hAPpy did look good on the downwind legs, gaining between 15 and 25 seconds when going to leeward. But AmericaOne gained over one minute on each upwind leg and was never threatened in the match.
LUNA ROSSA BEATS YOUNG AUSTRALIA, DELTA -
This match featured the leaders in the standings Luna Rossa (ITA-45) against Young Australia (AUS-31), the team at the bottom of the standings. Australian skipper James Spithill had another good start, forcing Francesco de Angelis to tack around at the committee boat end, and return late to the start line. Young Australia started with a 19 second lead but couldn't match the speed of the Italians. Luna Rossa gained on each split tack, eventually crossing ahead of Young Australia halfway up the leg. The Italians gained time on every leg of the course, and were never threatened.
STARS & STRIPES, DELTA - 00:03
In the closest racing seen yet on the Hauraki Gulf, Abracadabra (USA-50) beat Stars & Stripes (USA-55), after coming from behind halfway through the race. After that, Abracadabra skipper John Kolius held off a determined challenge by Stars & Stripes to finish just three seconds ahead. The first lap and a half had the two boats never more than a few lengths apart with Abracadabra always trailing. The predicted left-hand shift came through and even though Abracadabra was on the unfavoured side, Kolius remained in touch. On the second run Kolius gybed away early and then gybed back with some separation and began to show better speed. Kolius sailed steadily past his opponent to lead by 19 seconds at the lee mark. This was also the biggest delta of the match as Read fought unsuccessfully to retake the lead.