NZ America’s Cup yacht faces repairs after hit from rear

AP

Fri, May 19, 2017 - Page 16

It is rough on Bermuda’s Great Sound, where America’s Cup catamarans are staging an inadvertent demolition derby before the competition has even started.

Emirates Team New Zealand’s 50-foot catamaran will be in the boat shed for three days to repair the significant damage sustained when it was hit from behind by Ben Ainslie of Britain’s Land Rover BAR during a practice race on Tuesday. There were no injuries.

Emirates team chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge said the team hope to be back on the water for more practice sailing by tomorrow.

The collision happened when Ainslie tried to clear the Emirates boat, but hit the inside of its port hull with his starboard bow. The impact left a puncture and also crushed and delaminated about 1.8m of the New Zealand boat’s hull.

Shoebridge called it “a pretty major repair.”

He said the team lucked out because the breeze is expected to be light for the next few days.

“We’ll make the best of a bad situation and get on with it,” Shoebridge said by telephone on Wednesday. “These things happen. We’ll get it fixed and get back on the water.”

Emirates used the hashtag #ThanksBen in tweeting that they would not be practicing on Wednesday.

Shoebridge said collisions like this could happen during the competition involving the fast, wing-sailed catamarans, which rise up on hydrofoils when they hit a certain speed and zip across the top of the waves.

Some teams have hit nearly 80kph.

“I think it highlights something that we potentially will see in the Cup,” Shoebridge said. “These boats are traveling at high speeds. Obviously, it’s very competitive, and at close quarters this can happen and this will happen, I’m sure, throughout the event.”

The elimination series starts on Friday next week.

The America’s Cup match begins on June 17 between Oracle Team USA and the top challenger.

Team New Zealand were the hard-lucker loser to Oracle in the 2013 America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay.

Oracle has capsized their catamaran twice in the past month. There were no injuries and apparently only slight damage.