The America's Cup challenger fleet was headed back to the protest room tonight after a bizarre and thrilling day of yacht racing

The America’s Cup challenger fleet was headed back to the protest room tonight after a bizarre and thrilling day of yacht racing.

Young America, racing for the New York Yacht Club, were destined to spend a second night with the international jury after another dispute before racing.

Young America’s crew called for a delay to their crunch race against Stars & Stripes today, reportedly due to a broken mainsail track.

The delay was granted, but then racing on the course was postponed because of high winds.

Later, when the race officials said matches were due to start, Young America inexplicably began their race with a headsail but without a mainsail, and with their protest flag flying. Eventually the boat pulled out of the race, handing Stars & Stripes four points for the win if they completed the course.

Young America spent almost five hours in the protest room last night after refusing to race Young Australia, citing a race committee error when the crew called for a delay due to damage. The syndicate were today handed a point by the international jury as compensation, a move which has angered rival challengers.

Young America have declined to say publicly what the damage was. The syndicate are already sailing a second boat after their first boat was creased and badly damaged in two-metre swells last week. Last week, Young America syndicate head John Marshall said their second boat was being reinforced before being taken out for racing. However he refused to speculate on whether Young America would withdraw their boat from races in high winds and difficult swells.

America True were also due to protest after a tense battle with Asura of Japan which saw two minor collisions near the finish line. America True incurred a double penalty in the pre-start manoeuvres against Asura, and while under the rules they had to complete a penalty circle straight away, the boat carried the other penalty into the last run.

Then, America True skipper John Cutler trapped Asura under skipper Peter Gilmour brilliantly.

As the boats travelled well wide of the original course under spinnaker, America True turned to complete their second penalty, but Asura, the upwind boat, failed to stay clear. The two boats touched so Asura was penalised, nullifying America True’s second penalty.

Cutler then forced another collision with Asura, the two boats coming together though it was not clear whether there was any damage. Again Asura was penalised for failing to stay clear — effectively handing America True the win and the four points.

It was not clear why America True were flying their protest flag. In other races, Bravo Espana was setting a pedestrian pace around the course, sailing with only a headsail, as they needed only to finish to pick up a win with Be Happy of Switzerland not starting.

The Swiss boat badly damaged its rear keel yesterday and the team have forfeited their last two races this round robin.

Luna Rossa maintained their lead in the series, comprehensively beating 6 Sens of France.

AmericaOne also had a comfortable five minute win after Young Australia had spinnaker problems.

The races today began in winds of around 17 to 19 knots, but the breeze dropped significantly during the afternoon.