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Rough Start for Italy’s Luna Rossa

February 22, 2000

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) _ Italy’s Luna Rossa got off to a disastrous start in Race 2 of the America’s Cup on Tuesday when a plastic bag snagged on the keel and efforts to clear it left a sailor cut badly enough that he had to be taken off the yacht.

The accident left the starboard side stained with blood, right where Luna Rossa (Red Moon) is painted on the silver hull.

Bowman Massimiliano Sirena apparently was hit in the head by a carbon-fiber pole being used by another crewman trying to remove the bag from one of the winglets on the keel bulb. Sirena was shown leaning over the rail, holding a towel and then a bandage to his head.

A tender raced in to pick up Sirena, who according to preliminary reports suffered a three-inch gash. That left the Italians to sail with 15 crewmen compared to 16 aboard New Zealand’s Black Magic.

The Italians first tried to clear the plastic bag by using the pole, then had a man suspended over the side of the boat trying for better leverage. They finally brought the 75-foot yacht almost to a full stop and had Piero Romeo in the water to try to clear the bag. The bag apparently cleared when the boat stopped.

Black Magic rounded the first windward mark ahead by a whopping 2 minutes, 19 seconds and led at the second mark by 1:55.

Black Magic, which won Sunday’s first race, took control just a minute into the pre-start maneuvers when Russell Coutts, one of the world’s best match-race skippers, made a brilliant move against Luna Rossa skipper Francesco de Angelis, an America’s Cup rookie.

Coutts wanted the right side of the course, figuring the wind would shift that way, but had to enter the starting box on disadvantaged port tack. He made a hairpin turn, let Luna Rossa go past and then ducked underneath to get the position he wanted.

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