Repairwork underway on USA-77

Team Dennis Conner's sunken ACC boat gets a new bow

Sunday September 1st 2002, Author: Team Dennis Conner, Location: United States
Team Dennis Conner has announced that the repair work on USA-77 is going extremely well and she is expected to be sailing again by mid-September. After a full review of the hull and structure, it was determined that the only significant damage was to the front end of USA-77. To ensure the repairs would not add extra weight or compromise the structural integrity of the hull, Team Dennis Conner decided that the best option is to replace the bow from the mast forward.

The America's Cup rule allows repairs and modifications to be made to the hull with prior approval from the Class Technical Director as long as they do not exceed 50% of the hull area. After observing the two boats (USA-66 and USA-77) sailing together and after reviewing data from hundreds of tests, Team Dennis Conner and the team's designer Reichel/Pugh agreed on ways to optimize the performance of USA-77 by modifying the bow section during the repair. Team Dennis Conner was required by the America's Cup Protocol to request permission for the change from America's Cup Class Technical Director Ken McAlpine, who reviewed the drawings of the change and granted permission.

The new bow is being built at New England Boatworks (NEB) in Portsmouth Rhode Island where USA-66 and USA-77 were constructed. The team at NEB has done an outstanding job and the new part will be finished this week. Team Dennis Conner is also very pleased with the help and support that the team's insurer, Atlantic Mutual, has been providing during the repair process. Atlantic Mutual and the team's insurance broker, Carle & Carle/Frenkel & Company, have understood the complexity and urgency of this project from the start and have truly shown the depth of their capabilities.

The final logistics of flying the new bow down to the Team Dennis Conner training base in New Zealand, where it will be fit to the rest of the hull, are still being finalized. Once the new part is on site, the Stars & Stripes boat building team and a group of boat builders from New England Boatworks will begin the process of splicing the two sections together. The joint is designed in a zig zag fashion and incorporates part of the existing internal structure of the boat, eliminating any additional weight added or strength lost.

To assure perfect alignment of the parts, two of Team Dennis Conner official suppliers (Arc Second and Xygent) will use laser measurement data files that were collected during the construction of USA-77. These 3D shape files will be matched with the files of the new shape. With the use of the Arc Second laser measurement system that they will bring to New Zealand and the specialized Xygent software, the builders will be able to match the shapes to less than half a millimeter. The whole procedure is expected to take seven to ten days. The team expects to be sailing USA-77 again in mid-September allowing Team Dennis Conner's two-boat testing program to resume. In the meantime, the team will train on board USA-66 in preparation for the Louis Vuitton Cup which begins on October 1.

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