AmericaOne New Zealand Chronicles:
About The Challenge
Daily Report - Tuesday, November 9, 1999 -
Get well soon, Young America.
Normally, I follow the race from the 40' rubber boat driven by Will Bendict in the company of one or two of the sailors not racing that day and often sail designer Robert "Hooky" Hook. This gives us the closest possible view of our boat during the race for post-race analysis of general performance, sail shape, tactics, and any rules issues.
By our third weather leg today wind had increased to 20+ knots and more importantly, it was rather rough. We had started in seas of maybe one meter, but toward the end of our third leg they were more like two meters. And not long gentle swells like San Diego, but with a shorter, meaner chop.
At one point, we took over the bow of our rubber boat a big rogue wave, which drenched the three of us huddling under the T-top behind trimmer Moose (Dave) McClintock, who had the day off from sailing and was on the wheel at that moment, sparing Will.
It must have been a similar wave that did in Young America. They were on the other course, even further out in the Hauraki Gulf, where normally it is even rougher.
I am just back from the press conference with Gina where Young America's skipper Ed Baird was the only invited skipper. In a nutshell, they were in a close race with Peter Gilmour's Nippon Challenge; indeed, Nippon had been gaining upwind as the wind freshened. Young America had been able to hang on to their slight lead, but needed to tack to round ahead of Nippon. There was no room for error. According to Ed, just as they began to tack, an unusually big set of waves came through. They went up the first wave, and plunged into the trough, and then they heard "that noise" and realized their boat "was compromised". Baird said that "when the Whitbread veterans started jumping off the boat, we all followed". Unlike, oneAustralia (which sunk in 1995), Young America did not then twist and sheer. Young America, while taking on water rapidly, apparently did not have gaping holes in the hull. When they realized the boat was not going straight down, the crew were able to scramble back aboard and, with the help of nearby police boats and other syndicates (including AmericaOne), they kept the boat from sinking with airbags and pumps. Eventually they were able to tow it back to Viaduct basin where, as I type this at 1930, they have the "banana" boat in the slings and are removing the rig before trying, presumably, to later lift it out.
What are their options? The rules say that if you are unable to start the next race (with that same boat) through fault of your own (which this is, as opposed to being holed by another boat as Stars & Stripes did to us in RR1), you have to forfeit that next race. Thereafter you can ask for either a 48-hour delay of your next start in order to keep trying to fix your boat, or you can substitute another boat. Presumably, Young America must go the substitution route as the structural problems with their current boat must take a long time to repair, if they can ever be repaired.
Ed Baird was asked tonight by the press if their new boat was any stronger, and all he said was "I hope so." Indeed, there is much speculation that their next boat is designed for the normally lighter summer breezes expected in January and February.
Regardless, none of us at AmericaOne are getting any pleasure out of their misery. "There, by the grace of God, go us" came quickly to mind. Moreover, if we are to be ready to face and beat the Kiwis in February, the ultimate challenger will need all the competition we can get -- and certainly New York so far has looked tough. Get well soon, Young America.
Postscript -- our race against the Swiss was not exactly interesting. Our guys won the start, and sailed higher and faster off the line. The race was over within minutes, as long as nothing broke. Our guys sailed a good clean race, and collected four more points. Young America is scheduled to race the Swiss in their next race, so it would now appear that the Swiss may be the beneficiaries of the Young America's forfeit.
And tomorrow's weather gets worse, not better. Roger "Clouds" Badham gives it only a 10% chance of being raceable, with Thursday looking better but also marginal.
AmericaOne Rules Advisor
AmericaOne is one of the leading challengers for America's Cup 2000. The team is currently competing in Auckland, New Zealand for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the right to challenge New Zealand for the America's Cup in February 2000. AmericaOne has built two boats based on 4 years of technology development and innovation. The top level technology partners are Hewlett-Packard Company, Telcordia Technologies/SAIC, Ford Motor Company/Visteon and United Technologies Corp. AmericaOne represents San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club. To learn more about AmericaOne visit: www.americaone.org.
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