Young America outmaneuvers America3 AMERICA'S CUP

January 21, 1995|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Sun Staff Writer

America3's race against PACT '95 in the America's Cup defender trials yesterday was lost before it really had begun.

And any chance of breaking even in the six-race, first round-robin in this series was lost along with yesterday's race.

The women's team, the first to compete in the America's Cup trials, has not won a race since beating Team Dennis Conner in the series opener nine days ago.

The obvious reason is that the women are sailing a boat built for the 1992 America's Cup and PACT '95 is sailing Young America, the newest International America's Cup Class racer sailing here.

"They certainly are not slow, we know that," America3 skipper Dawn Riley said.

But Young America's tactics have been sharp as well.

During the prestart period yesterday, with America3 starting skipper J. J. Isler and Young America skipper Kevin Mahaney aggressively jockeying their boats for position, the women's team was assessed a right-of-way penalty.

"Basically, it was pre-start hunting [looking for an advantage]," said Riley. "J. J. came down aggressively -- just like we would in practice, but out there they call the rule tighter."

Adding insult to injury, Mahaney and Young America then forced America3 over the starting line early -- and hit the starting line themselves at full tilt.

The margin at the start favored Young America by 2 seconds, but by the time America3 crossed the line, completed its penalty turn and got up to speed, its deficit had grown to about five boat lengths.

"We went into sort of a loose tacking duel on the first leg," said Young America tactician John Kostecki, "and went off to the right on the second leg to build about a five-length lead.

"From there, Kenny Read did a good job of reading the shifts and we sailed the rest of the race conservatively covering them."

Winds on the course set on the Pacific Ocean off Point Loma ranged from 6 to 11 knots.

By the top of the first leg, however, the women's team had battled back to trail by only 40 seconds.

But by the end of the first down wind leg, Young America had built its lead to 1 minute, 1 second despite the team's worst spinnaker set of the regatta.

During that first mark rounding, crewman Matt Welling went overboard but was recovered quickly.

"We had a really botched spinnaker set at that mark," said Read. "We came in too fast and didn't give the foredeck people a chance to set.

"In that situation, it gets kind of unruly up there, and to Matt's credit, he managed to hang on after he went over the side."

As Welling went over, Read said, the cry went up, "Get something out of the water.

"Well, at first everyone was looking for 'something,' not a body."

After a course change starting the second leg to windward, PACT '95 continued to protect the right side of the 18.55 nautical mile course and gained another 9 seconds on America3.

After the second leeward leg, Young America led by 1 minute, 42 seconds, and Mahaney and company gained another 22 seconds on the last beat.

America3 gained 2 seconds on the run to the finish line, its only gain on the six-leg course.

Team Dennis Conner, which sails against the women today and closes the series tomorrow against PACT '95, also has won only once, against the women in the second race of the series.

STANDINGS

DEFENDERS

Team .. ..... .. ..Victories

PACT '95 ... ... ..5

America3 .. ... .. 1

Team Dennis Conner 1

CHALLENGERS

Team .. ... .. ..Victories

Team New Zealand 5

Nippon Challenge 3

Win New Zealand .3

Sydney '95 ... ..2

oneAustralia ... 2

Spain .... .... .0

France ...... ...0

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