SUI-64 Dismasts During Testing
Team Alinghi were testing on the Hauraki Gulf today when SUI-64 lost the top of its rig. At the Alinghi base in the Viaduct basin, a replacement mast waits patiently for the boat to return to the dock.
AUCKLAND - December 8, 2002 - While conducting last minute testing for the Semi-Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup which begin Monday, Team Alinghi had to cut short their outing. At approximately 10:45 local time, SUI-64 sustained a broken mast while sailing in approximately 23 knots of wind. The team was conducting downwind two-boat testing with SUI-64 and SUI-75 in freshening conditions and regular squalls.
The team reacted quickly and efficiently to secure the top of the mast and remove the mainsail from the fractured section. Procedure called for a man to be sent up the mast, in this case Curtis Blewett and Dean Phipps. They removed the mainsail and secured the fractured part of mast as quickly as possible, which had broken approximately 6.5 meters from the top of the rig. They were working at a height of 26 meters above the deck of the yacht.
Taking the sails down, removing the mainsail and securing the mast is extremely difficult whilst the yacht is pitching in 20-30 knot winds with 1-5 meter waves. It has taken two hours for sixteen sailors to clean up the deck and begin the tow-in back to the base.
As soon as the boat returns to the base, the maintenance team will take charge of replacing the mast. The sailing team and the design team will convene for discussions and analysis to insure the best repairs and adjustments for the new mast.
Mast Engineer Pete Lawson commented, “his is just one of those things that can happen - obviously it could have happened at a better time but at least it didn't happen during racing tomorrow. We have a contingency mast of the same spec so it's just a case of replacing the broken one. “
QUOTE FROM THE BOAT
GRANT SIMMER, DESIGN TEAM COORDINATOR - “When the top of the mast broke, the crew did a great job of stabilising the rig especially given the conditions and thankfully no one was injured. We ended up quite a long way out towards the Coromandel peninsula as we had to run with the wind until we had cut away the mainsail and secured the rig. It's disappointing as we were planning to use this mast for our first race against Oracle tomorrow however we have a back-up rig which will be stepped this afternoon and we will be ready to race on schedule tomorrow.”
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Alinghi, Challenge for the America's Cup 2003, is flying the Swiss flag, and carrying the colours of the Société Nautique de Genève. UBS, Infonet, Audemars-Piguet and Riri are its proud sponsors.