Young America gets OK on using its second boat

Panel determines USA-53 damaged too badly to race


November 11, 1999|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Young America, the New York Yacht Club's challenge team in the America's Cup, will be allowed to complete the challenger elimination series' Round Robin 2 in USA-58, the team's second and newer boat.

The International Jury for the Louis Vuitton Cup approved Young America's application yesterday after determining USA-53, the team's first boat, was damaged too extensively to continue in the round.

In yesterday's racing, Stars and Stripes defeated first-round leader Prada by 1 minute, 51 seconds, America True beat Le Defi Francais by 59 seconds and AmericaOne defeated Nippon by default.

The hull and deck of USA-53 cracked and nearly resulted in the boat sinking after it hit a series of 5-foot waves while racing against Nippon on Hauraki Gulf off Auckland, New Zealand, Tuesday.

As part of the decision, Young America had to forfeit its race yesterday against Fast 2000 of Switzerland. Skipper Ed Baird said yesterday he expects USA-58 to be on the water and racing tomorrow.

As a precaution, team officials said, the hull of the International America's Cup Class racer will be reinforced before entering competition to make sure it is not susceptible to the same structural failure as USA-53.

"Basically, the structural layout of the boats is very similar, and consequently, we are concerned about USA-58," said Young America president John Marshall. "The prudent thing probably is to build some extra reinforcing into USA-58 so we don't have any doubts."

Marshall said the team could remove the reinforcements later if designers and engineers give USA-58 a clean bill of health.

Both USA-53 and USA-58 were designed by Farr Yacht Design Ltd. of Annapolis and built by Goetz Custom Boats in Rhode Island.

Designers from the Farr group are in Auckland, and Eric Goetz and three members of his staff are en route to expedite work on both boats. Young America already has received drawings and specifications for the work to be done on USA-58.

Young America, which also is supported by the Annapolis Yacht Club, plans to repair USA-53.

"I think it's very important to rebuild [USA-53], because it's a known trial horse for the other boat," said Baird. "It's the right way to win the America's Cup. Having that second boat there is our stopwatch. It's our only way to be sure that what we're doing is faster."

Two-boat campaigns such as Young America's use both of their boats to train, making changes to sails and rigs to determine what works best in various sailing conditions and what might produce an edge against other competitors.

"As incredible as it may seem, when you look at a boat that is essentially broken in half," said Marshall, "the damage is repairable, and repairable in a reasonable period of time."

Marshall estimates the repairs will take weeks and not months. He would not estimate the cost of repairing the $4 million racer.

"It is a major project, but, fortunately, the damage is virtually entirely isolated in the deck and hull shell as opposed to the very complex support structures," Marshall said.

With one boat expected on the water for the balance of this round and the other in the shop at least until the start of Round Robin 3 on Dec. 2, Baird was asked whether USA-58 would be sailed tentatively in winds approaching the racing limit of 18 knots.

"We're out there trying to win every race," he said. "You don't sit back and think, `I shouldn't turn here because the boat might not handle it.'

"If you're going to learn something, even if it's catastrophic, you want to learn it now, when the points are less. We've got to push when it's time to push."

Young America finished the first round in second place with eight points, one for each victory. In Round 2, victories are worth four points, and in Round 3 they will be worth nine points.

After the three round-robins, the top six finishers among the 11 challengers will advance to the semifinals, starting Jan. 2. The Louis Vuitton finals start Jan. 25.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.