Black Beauty cruises to 2nd win

January 16, 1995|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Sun Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- Team New Zealand's International America's Cup Class racer, nicknamed Black Beauty, soundly beat France to win its second straight match in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger elimination races yesterday.

While Team New Zealand was working over France, Win New Zealand and skipper Chris Dickson were matched with Nippon Challenge, which on Saturday had upset oneAustralia, the early favorite in the first round of this four-month regatta.

'It was a little more like sailing 12-meters in Fremantle today than it should be sailing these boats off San Diego,' Dickson said afterward.

In winds between 12 and 15 knots from the west and 8 foot swells, Team New Zealand and France started even on the 18.55 nautical mile course off Point Loma.

But by the turn at the end of the first leg to windward, skipper Russell Coutts had built a half-minute lead, and by the turn at the end of the first leg to leeward, Black Beauty led by more than a minute.

'These were the worst conditions we have sailed this boat in,' said Brad Butterworth, a member of the afterguard on Black Beauty. 'We are happy with the way the boat handled it.'

France, which lost its first race on Saturday because of equipment failure 200 yards from the finish line, again was beset with sail handling problems, especially on the first downwind leg, when the topping lift for the spinnaker pole broke, collapsing the sail and dropping the front end of the pole into the Pacific Ocean.

'We were lucky there was no major breakage,' said France skipper Marc Pajot. 'But even though we fixed it, we still lost 30 seconds.'

And the race.

Against Nippon, Dickson won the start by 15 seconds and led at each mark on the course to win by 57 seconds, a surprising accomplishment because his boat is pretty much right out of the box and Nippon had been refined extensively during 30 days in the shed after a poor performance in the IACC worlds last fall.

But Dickson's boat, probably the narrowest of the International America's Cup Class boats here, seems very fast -- even in stronger winds.

'We were fortunate to get the jump at the start today and then to get a 15 degree favorable windshift on the first leg,' Dickson said.

The Bruce Farr design was expected to excel in lighter winds, but was fast and wet yesterday, Dickson said.

'We were fast today, but (Makota) Namba's team kept coming at us all the way around. It was a very close race.'

On the three windward legs, Dickson's boat gained 14, 50 and 15 seconds on Nippon, and gave only 1, 29 and 7 seconds on the downwind legs -- with the largest loss attributed largely to a bad spinnaker set at the start of the leg.

'We were happy with the result,' Nippon skipper Namba said jokingly, 'especially when we crossed the finish line and the mast and everything was still on the boat.'

Based on yesterday's races, it may be that New Zealand has fielded both the beauty and the beast.

In the other challenger race yesterday, Sydney '95 beat Spain by 3 minutes, 43 seconds to remain undefeated and tied with Team New Zealand at 2-0 on the top of the standings.

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