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Cup Attacker Found Guilty

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Sept. 9, 1997) — The man who attacked and severely damaged the America's Cup last March has been found guilty by a New Zealand district court> He was sentenced to 34 months of confinement.

After deliberating for 60 minutes last Thursday, the jury pronounced 28-year-old Benjamin Nathan guilty of the charge of "wilful damage" for his March 14 sledgehammer attack on the America's Cup.

Nathan had entered the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron clubhouse, went to the room where the prized America's Cup was displayed, broke the display case, and hit the Victorian-era trophy several times with the sledgehammer.

He also left evidence, and later stated, that his attack on the Cup was to protest and publicize the injustices the Maori people, the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand, have received at the hands of the ruling white majority.

This was not Nathan's first trip to court. At the time of his attack on the Cup, he was on parole for attempted bank robbery and was later imprisoned for violating the terms of his parole.

The America's Cup was fully restored by Garrards, the London jewelers who crafted the Auld Mug in 1848 for Queen Victoria, and returned to the RNZYS last month.

The New Zealand club won the America's Cup in 1995 when Team New Zealand's Black Magic defeated Young America in San Diego. The best-of-nine match for the Cup is slated to begin Feb. 26, 2000, with the challenger elimination trials set to start in November, 1999.

(Some of the details of this report are courtesy of Richard Gladwell of Sailing New Zealand and the CompuServe Sailing Forum.)

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