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Serious Storm hits Auckland Damaging Waterfront

Challenger Syndicates Appear Undamaged; Civilian Boater Presumed Lost

-- Report by Richard Gladwell, Sailing New Zealand

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND -- A serious storm hit Auckland over the weekend, with winds gusting over 75 knots. There appears to have been no damage to the Challengers located in Auckland, however damage around the waterfront was very serious. Forty boats broke free from their moorings, with five yachts wrecked at the Devonport Yacht Club, on Auckland's North Shore. The storm which raged for 48 hours also demolished the Compass Dolphin, a large circular concrete structure, and well known harbour landmark. It will not be replaced.

Two rescue missions were mounted to save the crews of two yachts caught off the Northland coast. In one all three crew were lifted off after being up to their knees in water in their sinking craft. In another, when the high winds were adjudged too strong for helicopters, one crewmember is missing, presumed drowned, after she disappeared while being hoisted aboard a rescuing ship. Her companion was saved.

The storm is typical of the weather pattern which plagues Auckland at this time of the year. Since early October, Challengers building up for the Cup next year would have lost about 50% of the available sailing days - mostly through heavy weather, but with the odd windless day as well.

It will be interesting to see how the Louis Vuitton Cup is organised around the weather pattern, with the obvious option being to either sail two matches per day (creating problems if one boat encounters damage which cannot be repaired on the water). However real problems will occur if there is a spell of very good sailing weather during a between round break - playing the game of averages - you have to use every available sailing day.

To read more, visit the Sailing New Zealand website at http://www.sailing.co.nz.

To watch an AmericaOne video about high winds in New Zealand, click here.


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