Team New Zealand Dismasts Putting Alinghi on Match Point
More heartbreak for Team New Zealand, who are forced to retire for the second time...
In very difficult, blustery, conditions, Team New Zealand dismasted in Race Four of the America’s Cup – to many seasoned Cup observers, its chances of a successful defence in the XXXIst Match appeared to tumble down with the rig.
It was a tough fourth race of the series, with rain squalls bringing strong gusts and sharp, choppy seas to the Hauraki Gulf.
On the second beat, after a strong squall had passed over the two boats, Team New Zealand appeared to pound through three particularly big waves. As the bow came down off the third wave, the mast snapped between the first and second spreader after what appeared to be a shroud or spreader failure. None of the crew members were hurt.
“It’s possible it’s the top of the V2 (shroud), which is the main, load-bearing outside rigging element, but until we get a chance to really look at the damage, we’d just be guessing,” said syndicate head Tom Schnackenberg moments after the disaster. “When the boat pitches forward that increases the shock loading and the boat was definitely bouncing over a couple of waves there and that was obviously the thing that pushed it.”
The Swiss Alinghi Team had been leading for the entire race, after skipper Russell Coutts executed a perfect time on distance start to hit the starting line just as the gun fired. Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker started slightly behind and to weather, and at the first cross, five minutes up the beat, Alinghi was able to tack ahead in a strong lee bow position.
The Alinghi lead was never threatened and when Team New Zealand dismasted, Coutts and his team sailed the rest of the course to grab a 4 – 0 lead in the XXXIst America’s Cup Match.
For Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts, his 13th consecutive America’s Cup win puts his team on match point in the XXXIst America’s Cup Match. Coutts is now just one victory away from capturing his third consecutive America’s Cup, and breaking Dennis Conner’s record for America’s Cup race victories.
Under the Match Conditions for the America’s Cup, Team New Zealand cannot ask for a lay day to effect repairs.
“We’ll swap masts with NZL-81, that’s a very nice rig, and we’ll be ready to race tomorrow,” Schnackenberg promised.
Race Five is scheduled to start at 13:15 on Saturday afternoon.