AmericaOne New Zealand Chronicles:
Knocked Off Our Feet
About The Challenge
Daily Report - Saturday, October 23, 1999 -
Day five of racing dawned with no wind at all on the Hauraki Gulf. Early predictions called for 10-12 knots from the Southwest, but as we towed out to the race course area, we were greeted by a rapidly dying land breeze. It wasn't looking good for a full day of racing, as the start of Race 8 was delayed for 90 minutes. However, the land breeze made a comeback around noon and the Race Committee hurriedly set up a course.
Our first race was against Abracadabra. The entry was fairly tame as Kolius chose not to dial us up with his starboard tack rights. The final minute of the start saw us leading the Hawaiians back to the line. In typical match racing fashion the two boats swung their bows and sterns within feet of each other. Our time and distance was superior as we hit the line on starboard at full speed, they started on port, struggling to get around the committee boat. From there we just covered and consolidated, gradually extending our lead as the race went on. A comfortable win.
We learned a lot about sail choices in this race. At every mark the conditions were right in the crossover range (where two different sails may be equal in performance) and we were often faced with tough decisions. It is great to be out there being tested like that, we learned a lot in this race. If Race 8 was tame, Race 9 against Stars and Stripes made up for it! The prestart followed a similar pattern to the previous race, with the final moments of the start dominated by us leading back to the line. However, the race took a terrible twist as a gross misjudgment by Stars and Stripes helmsman Ken Read resulted in a serious collision. We were looking good on the final approach to the start with Stars and Stripes stuck to windward of AmericaOne on starboard tack. Read swung the bow down, trying to escape. Unfortunately, it was clear to us he was never going to clear our stern. Their bow plunged into the "scoop" (transom) on the back of our boat. The impact sent some of our crew flying, including Paul who nearly fell over the side. Our boat was pushed through the eye of the wind, into an unplanned tack. The collision ruined our start (and our boat) and we trailed them across the line. The umpires gave them a delayed penalty for the incident, which in my opinion was very light punishment. They could have given them an immediate penalty (putting them behind us), a black flag (disqualifying them from the race and allowing us to return to the dock to begin the huge repair job) and/or they could have initiated a protest hearing to deal with the damage.
Whether we should have or not, we chose to continue the race, as we felt that we could still beat them with our damaged boat and each point is important. We took the damage personally and wanted to pay them back in the best way possible - by winning the race. It was only a few tacks before we had drawn even with them. A few more and we were in front. We had a narrow lead at the top mark the first time. The hull core slowly filled up with water upwind, but we were able to protect the lead and won the race by a minute, after Stars & Stripes performed their delayed penalty at the finish line.
Now the afterguard are at a protest hearing and Brad, Coz, Sting and Josh are beginning what will be a very long repair job. It is at times like these that everyone on the team is happy to have the best boat builders in the Cup. We can all rest assured that the job is going to be as good as anyone could do it.
I am sure there will be plenty of news tomorrow. Stay tuned. And thanks for all the support.
AmericaOne Sailing Team
AmericaOne is dedicated to recapturing the America’s Cup by applying U.S. technology in computer equipment, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, sail design, naval architecture and structural engineering to America's Cup sailboat design. Technology partners include Hewlett-Packard Company, Bellcore/SAIC and Ford Motor Company/Visteon. The
AmericaOne team is comprised of 43 professionals, including 30 members of the design team actively working on the research and design of its sailboats. Operating since June 1, 1996, AmericaOne is the challenger on behalf of San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club.
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