3rd Day of Racing in America’s Cup
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) _ Dennis Conner, sailing in his eighth America’s Cup, won both of his races today on the third day of the America’s Cup challenger series.
San Francisco’s America True also had a notable victory after an intense tacking duel with Hawaii’s Abracadabra 2000.
Killer whales frolicked in Auckland’s inner harbor as northerly wind on the two challenger courses further out on Hauraki Gulf increased from 10 knots in the morning to more than 20 in the afternoon, the most consistent breeze in the competition so far.
In the morning races, Prada defeated the Spanish challenge by 1 minute, 2 seconds; Stars and Stripes defeated Nippon by 1 minute, 14 seconds; Young America defeated Le Defi Francais by 2 minutes, 4 seconds; America True defeated Abracadabra by 26 seconds; and Young Australia defeated Fast 2000 by 12 seconds.
In the afternoon, AmericaOne defeated Le Defi Francais by 1 minute, 26 seconds; Nippon defeated Young Australia by 1 minute, 52 seconds; the Spanish challenge defeated Abracadabra by 43 seconds; Prada defeated America True by 1 minute, 25 seconds; and Stars and Stripes defeated Fast 2000 by 40 seconds.
In a morning of tight racing for all but the top favorites, America True, with the only woman skipper of the competition in Dawn Riley, and Abracadabra 2000 tacked more than 60 times on the second windward leg before the San Franciscans scraped over the line for their second victory of the series.
Conner’s Stars and Stripes, with half the budget and half the number of boats of his rival, led the $20 million, two-boat Nippon team at all four marks in a close race in the morning, crossing the line more than one minute ahead. The San Diego team then beat the struggling Swiss syndicate in the afternoon.
Nippon had two penalties in its race against Conner, and bowman Toshiki Shibata was badly injured the afternoon race when a clip on a spinnaker pole sprang open, sending the heavy beam crashing down on his head.
``He was knocked unconscious straight away,″ skipper Peter Gilmour said. ``It appears he has a broken nose and lost several teeth, possibly a broken jaw and, we’re hoping, no spinal injuries.″
The Italian Prada team and the New York Yacht Club’s Young America again had easy victories, while Australia, with the youngest team, smallest budget and oldest boat, posted its first victory of the series, also over the Swiss.
Prada has six victories in as many starts. Paul Cayard’s AmericaOne and Ed Baird’s Young America also were perfect, each 5-for-5.
Stars and Stripes finished the day with 3 points, tying Abracadabra behind the leaders.
In more than 700 races over four months, the 11 challenger teams score one point for each victory in the first of three round-robins, four points in the second and nine in the third.
The winner of a finals series will meet Team New Zealand in a best-of-9 regatta starting in February 2000 for sailing’s most prized trophy, the America’s Cup.