USA-77 recovered

From the sea floor after her little mishap yesterday

Wednesday July 24th 2002, Author: Veronica Brown, Location: United States
Following her sinking yesterday Stars & Stripes' USA-77 has been recovered.

At approximately 7:00pm PDT, Stars & Stripes, USA-77 was successfully raised from the ocean floor and is now back in her cradle at the Team Dennis Conner training base in Long Beach. CA.

All of the crew are safe and have sustained no injuries. The Team Dennis Conner America's Cup program is expected to remain on schedule, with sailing in Long Beach concluding on Thursday, July 25, 2002.

"It's too early to tell how much damage the boat has suffered," said Dennis Conner. "We'll have more detailed information tomorrow when it is daylight and we can fully survey the extent of the damage."

In a statement later Conner added: "Firstly, I am so proud of our team for their heroic efforts yesterday. They all acted very quickly and did everything in their power to save her, but water filled the hull too quickly and she went down. Small setbacks like this are the cost of progress and in a high profile event like
the America's Cup, we push the envelope to have the fastest boats and the most innovative designs. We are reviewing several different plans for repair, all of which will allow her to be ready to go by the start of the Louis Vuitton Series."

Team Dennis Conner's ACC yachts, both named Stars & Stripes, will be shipped to Auckland as originally planned. USA-77 will depart Long Beach via container ship on August 1st with USA-66 following five days later. The team will relocate to Auckland during the first two weeks of August.

"The crew and support boats acted very quickly and efficiently," said Bill Trenkle, President of Team Dennis Conner and one of the Stars & Stripes trimmers. "At 1:00PM, we were sailing in about 12 knots of breeze when we heard a huge bang and the rudder broke off. We deployed all of the safety gear including the airbags and onboard pumps, but the water rushed in before we could keep her afloat. We had divers on the scene within 45 minutes and a crane and barge arrived about two hours later. We were able to stabilise the boat and lift her out of the water at approximately 7:00PM.

"We feel very lucky that no one was hurt and the boat was so quickly recovered. There is no doubt that we have a great crew and yesterday it became even more apparent how well they react in this kind of emergency. We're very proud of them all."

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