America's Cup day 1 update

James Boyd reports live on a disastrous day for Team New Zealand in Auckland

Saturday February 15th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australasia
If you haven't read this article before, then it is best to start from the bottom...

Post race comment:

Dean Barker in an interview with TV One revealed that the problems that took place today may have been a result of them breaking a jib halyard in the pre-start. "We actually had a couple of problems before start and it was at the top end of the conditons. We got a good start - the boats felt pretty even off the start line. Then we just started to take more and more water on - the effect of strong winds and the all the spectator craft. Once it started to fill us it just started hurting us towards the end. Then the boom broke - we're not certain if that got damaged before the start of the race."

ACC boat rigs are so finely tuned that the shock loads from a halyard breakage or from the tack line of the headsail breaking can cause severe repercussions elsewhere in the rig. It is probable that Team New Zealand will have to carry out a full rig check tonight if not take the mast out completely.

"We haven't ever experienced that amount of water on board before," continued Barker. "It was because of the extra chop and the strong winds. Typically when something does go wrong it does load up other parts of the boat." Barker added that this may have contributed to the boom breaking and the tack fitting failing - they have used the same tack fitting throughout their training and it has not failed and that the added weight of the 17th man and the umpire may have contributed to the problems. It should be remembered that having a lot of water on board also has the effect of sinking the boat slightly, extending waterline length.

Tom Schnackenberg commented that there were comparisons with 1983 when Australia II went a race down and later went on to win. "We've got a boat we feel very happy with, but we were full of gremlins today. We'll bounce back tomorrow and we'll be just fine."

Tom Schnackenberg commented on the breakage: "The mood in the team is probably annoyance as much as anything. Breakages can be repaired - the boat can probably be turned around in about 30 minutes." On the subject of the huge amount of water coming on board: "we have had some water on board, and normally we just live with it - I think we'll make a bigger effort to keep dry in these conditions."

Another theory going around is that the Kiwis were so fired up that they were pushing the boat too hard. Paul Cayard made the comment that in the conditions the boats experienced today it was more about 'control' and not 'horsepower', about keeping twist in the mainsail to spill.

On the race course (read this from the bottom up)

Alinghi rounds the top mark at 1:39. It looks like they have gone into cruising mode slightly. Team New Zealand have pulled out of the race and are heading back to port. There is carnage on board with a cockpit full of water, the boom end snapped off, the bottom of the main billowing out, no prospect of hoisting another headsail. Alinghi must complete the course to get the point. Bruno Trouble comments that this is the first time in an AC race in living memory that a boat has pulled out so soon.

The breakages it is felt may have been due to taking on so much water. With such a large quantity of water in the cockpit it may have changed the loads on the boat, loading up the mainsheet loads, breaking the boom and causing the resultant string of carnage.

First windward leg: Team New Zealand come off the line just a fraction ahead, both boats on starbaord. The Kiwis seem to be drawing ahead and are pointing slightly higher. It is commented that NZL82 is possibly not pitching as much. A wet ride for the crews... Images show the cockpit on NZL82 absolutely awash - the crew bailing furiously. This must be a huge distraction and can only slow the boat down. The self-bailer seem not to be handling having the cockpit awasah. Alinghi's cockpit in contrast is completely dry.

Team New Zealand appear to have a problem with their outhaul system - in fact the outboard end of their radical boom has broken. Alinghi in fine form and with the problems on NZL82, they look like they might pass in front.

1:32: FURTHER DISASTER for NZL82 as the headsail pulls out of the luff groove, because the tack came away. The Kiwis have retrieved the headsail, and are trying to feed another headsail into the luff groove. However it looks like the luff foil system on the headstay has broken - where are their hanks??? Peter Montgomery cannot understand why this has happened - they have tested the boat in more wind than this...

Pre-start. Team New Zealand turning well. Conditions are believed to favour the Kiwi boat. Both boats are flying - spray everywhere. Team New Zealand in windward position, possibly early. Both hit the line on the button. Alinghi down to leeward.

1.10 - five minute gun. Lively conditions on the Hauraki Gulf. Big waves reminiscent of Fremantle. Winds gusting up to 26 knots - more than was ever seen in the Louis Vuitton Cup. Commentators are describing it as 'boat breaking' conditions.

NZL82 coming in from the port side.

10.30am (local time) Half of Auckland has just turned out at the entrance to the Viaduct Basin to see the departure of NZL-82 and the challenger SUI-64. In an incredible scene, with the harbour lined with people, the waters so full of boats that it was difficult for the RIB tow boats to cut a path through. In a fine display of sportsmanship the Alinghi crew turned out on their dock to pay homage to the defenders.

The first race of the America's Cup kicks off here on the Hauraki Gulf at 13:15 local time. The event is sure to be a classic clash of the titans.

Forecast: General Synopsis - High-pressure (1019 mb) positioned in the central Tasman Sea is slowly moving east. Shallow low-pressure system (1007 mb) overhead the Chatham Islands is filling with an associated cold front clearing through the Auckland area early Saturday morning, bringing a cool south westerly air stream.

Winds: SSW 12-17 knots with gusts to 19 knots on the leading edge of cloud cells. The wind will moderate later in the day to 10 knots. Mainly fine scattered clouds with isolated showers throughout the day. Air temperatures 20-22degC. Seas slight to moderate.

Both teams have announced their crews (Team New Zealand have been keeping theirs under wraps). Signicantly NZL82's crew does not include Tom Schnackenberg nor Joey Allen. Neither boats are sailing with a 17th man.

NZL82 SUI64
Bowman Jeremy Lomas Foredeck Dean Phipps
Mid Bowman Matt Mitchell Foredeck Curtis Blewett
Mastman Nick Heron Mastman Francesco Rapetti
Pitman Jared Henderson Pitman Josh Belsky
Runner/Pit Barry McKay Grinder Enrico De Maria
Grinder Jono McBeth Grinder John Barnitt
Grinder Rob Waddell Genoa Trimmer Simon Daubney
Grinder Chris Ward Trimmer Richard Bouzaid
Trimmer James Dagg Grinder Dominik Neidhart
Trimmer Grant Loretz Mainsail Traveller Murray Jones
Mainsheet Trimmer Tony Rae Mainsail Trimmer Warwick Fleury
Afterguard Adam Beashel Grinder Pieter Van Nieuwenhuyzen
Afterguard Peter Evans Strategist Jochen Schuemann
Afterguard Hamish Pepper Navigator Ernesto Bertarelli
Navigator Mike Drummond Tactician Brad Butterworth
Skipper Dean Barker Helmsman/Skipper Russell Coutts
17 th Man - 17 th man -

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