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AmericaOne New Zealand Herald Chronicles:
20/10/99 - Yachting: Playing by the rules works for Cayard
By Suzanne McFadden

It was a taste of things to come in the America's Cup - more famous for its bizarre rules and acrimony than its sailing.

Suave AmericaOne skipper Paul Cayard knew he was lucky when he lost control of his boat at exactly the right second yesterday.

A minute after he had copped a penalty in the starting dance of his Louis Vuitton Cup challenger race against Nippon - just as the starter's gun was to fire - the steering broke in Cayard's AmericaOne boat.

The Americans had the race blown up and when it started again, Cayard was mysteriously without penalty.

Perhaps nowhere else in world sailing would this happen. The incident left the smooth waters of the Hauraki Gulf churning.

The Japanese were far from impressed that AmericaOne could restart the race without punishment for their pre-start misdemeanour.

Nippon flew a red flag from their boat for most of the race, which they ultimately lost by over 2 minutes.

But when they got ashore there it was in black ink - the clean slate in the restart was legal - so the Japanese dropped their flag.

"I know I'm a lucky man," Cayard said of his timing. "But those are the rules."

"I didn't know that at the time, but [tactician] John Kostecki did and he got straight on the radio to ask for the postponement."

The race umpires went on board AmericaOne to check that the damage was legitimate, and were convinced.

"When our steering broke, it was scary and surprising all at the same time.

"The guys did a nice job sailing with the sails till we could get out of the way," Cayard said.

The boat's steering had crashed the day before on the way back from the racecourse.

For Nippon skipper Peter Gilmour, the world's No 1 matchracer, it was not a happy day. He was a hunted man everywhere he went.

In the boisterous jousting before his morning's race with Young America, Gilmour's boat Asura clipped the black American boat and took a shark bite out of its bow.

But it was the Young Americans who copped the penalty for not giving Nippon room to get away - not unlike the incident later with Cayard.

In his enthusiasm, Young America skipper Ed Baird hit the startline too early and had to dip back under, losing the start.

Nippon stretched their lead to half a minute at the top mark.

Baird put bowman Dave Tank up the mast searching for wind in a shifty light breeze as they approached the bottom mark. Tank held on grimly as Baird repeatedly gybed.

Then the break came when the Nippon crew muffed a gybe, stopping dead in the water.Suddenly, the Americans went from three boatlengths behind, to three in front.

Young America waited until they had a decent lead on the third leg before making their 270 penalty degree turn, yet they still won by 1m 32s.

Abracadabra's whale boat was simply too fast for a Stars & Stripes geared for heavier winds.

John Kolius out-manoeuvred Ken Read at the start and never relinquished the lead, winning in formulaic fashion by 3m 50s.

Dennis Conner's boat sustained a sizeable defeat again, going down by over 5 minutes to the sleek Prada boat.

Le Defi France blew victory in their race with their Mediterranean training partners Spain when they failed to abide by the cardinal rule in America's Cup sailing - cover, cover, cover.

The French led by over 2 minutes going into the final leg, but the Spanish picked up a wind shift for a remarkable 55s comeback win.

Young Australia skipper James Spithill is emerging as a cup racer of the future.

The 20-year-old has won three out of three starts so far - but still had losses to Prada and Abracadabra.

All he needs now is a new boat.

For more New Zealand news, got to: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nzherald


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