Old boat, but new mast means setback for the US team 8/2/07

USA 71, one of BMW Oracle Racing’s America’s Cup Class yachts, has suffered some damage to the mast while in a race training session on the Hauraki Gulf. No one on board was hurt and the damaged rig remained intact in the yacht and was towed safely back to the team’s base in the Viaduct.

USA 71 was racing in 15 knots of breeze downwind during an in-house training session when the top of the rig collapsed. USA 71 is now back at the base where the shore team is removing the rig for inspection of the damage.

“While unfortunate, we have been pushing these boats hard and that’s why we are here,” said Chris Dickson, BMW Oracle Racing CEO and Skipper. “We would rather learn the lesson now than during the Louis Vuitton Cup when this sort of mishap could cost us a race. This was a race rig so we are disappointed as the piece that broke should not have broken, but we are pleased we discovered this weak link now during our race training. Sten Mohr, Bertrand Pace and the crew on board USA 71 today showed great seamanship by responding quickly, minimizing the damage and getting the boat and crew safely back to shore.”

BMW Oracle Racing plans to continue race training with USA 71 and USA 98 on the Hauraki Gulf tomorrow. The team is training in New Zealand until 16 February.