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America’s Cup Team Stripped of Point

November 20, 1999

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) _ New York’s Young America was stripped of a point Saturday in the challenger series for sailing’s America’s Cup after officials found the team made a false claim about damage to its boat.

The decision came after the international jury reopened a protest hearing into whether the New York Yacht Club’s syndicate was able to start its race against Young Australia on Wednesday.

Young America withdrew from the race, but was awarded one point by the jury after complaining that officials didn’t properly consider a request to postpone the start so the team could fix what it said was a problem with the boat’s gooseneck, which fixes the boom to the mast.

After an initial hearing, the jury decided that race officials had made a procedural error by not consulting Young America about the problem before going ahead with the race.

But after hearing the voices of Young America sailors caught by a television camera just prior to the start, the jury decided the damage was much more serious than the team claimed and that there was no chance the boat could be repaired in time to race.

In the tapes played to the jury, an unidentified voice talks about a crack on the boat and says the team should ``get on home.″

``We can’t race here,″ the voice says. ``If we blow the boat we’re all done, man.″

The $40 million syndicate is sailing its second boat after the first cracked apart during an earlier race and almost sank.

Chairman Bryan Willis said that after hearing the new tapes the jury was ``satisfied that Young America had little or no chance to win the match against Young Australia. Before, we believed they might have had a 50-50 chance of winning.″

Skipper Ed Baird told reporters Thursday it was the gooseneck that stopped Young America from racing, but admitted later the deck of the boat had cracked.

Young America remains in sixth place among the 11 challengers fighting it out for the chance to take on defender New Zealand next year for yachting’s most prized trophy.

The second round-robin of the challenger series officially finished Friday, although three races that were deferred earlier were scheduled to be run Saturday.

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