by Selwyn Manning
The Japanese Americas Cup challenger yacht Azura has broken its mast. The breakage occured during racing on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf this afternoon, in a match race against AmericaOne.
Azura was leading AmericaOne on the second downwind circuit of the race course when her mast broke immediately after a gybe.
Peter Gilmour, skipper of Azura had pressured AmericaOne from the start. AmericaOne's skipper Paul Cayard stayed in contact for four legs and was within three lengths of Asura and closing on the second leeward mark when the Japanese boat’s mast snapped like a carrot just after a gybe.
The wind on the Hauraki Gulf had picked up again today, and peaked at around 25 knots during the afternoon's match races. This is considered the top edge of wind conditions for the Americas Cup designed boats.
Azura's crew is working to retrieve the rig. The spinnaker was dropped in the water for the chase boat to pick up. No injuries have been reported.
The accident occurred just two days after New york Yacht Club challenger, Young America, almost broke in two in moderate seas during racing. The Young America team has got approval to race its back-uop yacht in the remainer of Louis Vuitton Cup round robin 2 races.
Race details courtesy of www.louisvuittoncup.com