Wight Lightning arrives

GBR-70 pitches up at the GBR Challenge base in Auckland

Tuesday June 11th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australasia
Following her launch in Cowes, Wight Lightning, the new boat of Peter Harrison's GBR Challenge arrived yesterday at the British team's base in Auckland.

Having Wight Lightning in addition to the two Japanese boats in the British compound has made for a tight squeeze, but GBR-70 is now inside their shed, where a contingent from her build team are finishing her off in preparation for her maiden voyage.

Whenever the weather has allowed over the last few days the team have been going afloat but with just one boat. This is due to the squad being down on numbers with the match race team taking part in the Swedish Match Tour event in Split, Croatia followed by last week's Omega Seamaster Cup in Trieste. However Andy Beadsworth and his team are now back having scored a satisfying third place behind Coutts and Barker and ahead of Chris Law in Italy.

madfor sailing spies in Auckland tell us that about 10 days ago GBR Challenge were out testing and tuning their first cathedral rig. Their first outing with the new spar was in 5-6 knot winds and clearly following the dismastings of OneWorld and Team New Zealand they are keen that this fate does not occur to their mast.

To recap a little, the cathedral (or Millenium) rig was one of the biggest surprises of the last America's Cup. It was first seen on Team New Zealand's defender and had successfully been kept under wraps by the Kiwis. Many believe it was this technological leap that gave their NZL-60 such pace over other ACC boats.

By having diagonals that pass directly through the mast it allows smaller diameter rigging and three, not four, sets of full length spreaders to be used thereby saving weight aloft and reducing aerodynamic drag. However the rig has is downside - the loadings are very different to a conventional four spreader arrangement and it makes the spar much harder to engineer, set up and tune. As if to demonstate this both OneWorld and Team New Zealand have seen these rigs come crashing down round their ears in recent months.

Since its introduction on NLZ- 60 the cathedral rig has been under major development by all the challengers and it will be fascinating to see what variations the design teams from each of the syndicates have come up with.

One wonders how long it will be before spar guru turned Volvo skipper Neal McDonald turns up to give Peter Harrison's boys a hand.

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