Young America had structural problems for two months before it almost sank in the Hauraki Gulf during Louis Vuitton Cup challenger yachting series
Young America had structural problems for two months before it almost sank in the Hauraki Gulf during Louis Vuitton Cup challenger yachting series, the Bruce Farr-led design team said today. Russell Bowler, a partner of New Zealand-born Farr, also revealed inadequate repairs were made to Young America just one week before it buckled on a wave in November.
The severe crack happened exactly where the repair had been made, by Young America boatbuilders, to prevent a breakdown of the hull structure. Bowler said Farr Yacht Design had issued a statement on the cause of the problem to prevent speculation about what caused the breakage and criticism of the design company. He said Farr Yacht Design was disappointed Young America had not released its updated findings on the breakdown, nor those of an independent insurance examiners.
Bowler spoke to reporters from Farr’s base in the United States as racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals between AmericaOne and Italian syndicate Prada’s Luna Rossa was abandoned because of a lack of wind on the Hauraki Gulf. “We made our decision to provide details on the cause of the November 9 break in an effort to correct speculation by competitors and journalists, and to provide insights into USA53’s structural failure for boatbuilders, yacht designers and sailors,” Bowler said.
He confirmed there had been problems with delamination on USA53 since the boat was launched in Auckland in September. Delamination occurs where skin on the hull has not bonded correctly to the carbon fibre core, and is a construction problem. Bowler pointed to a lack of money within the Young America challenge, representing the New York Yacht Club, as one contributor to the problem. He said composite experts in Auckland might have detected the defects. “Limited resources and budgets did not allow such luxuries.” Bowler said a repair was made to the side decking of the boat a week before it broke up after striking three heavy waves in succession. He said that repair was made without the knowledge of the original builder, or Farr Design. Bowler said his reaction when he heard of the boat breaking was one of “utter horror” because he believed the side decking had been designed to be particularly strong to handle the extreme loads from the mast.
He said detecting exactly what happened had been difficult because the computers on board USA53 had crashed when the boat hit the heavy waves. The two Young America boats, USA53 and USA58, are still in Auckland as the syndicate wait to see where the next America’s Cup will be staged.