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Demasting Ends Happy Challenge

The Swiss have packed up and left the America's Cup Village but in a sign of their future intentions have left their radical boat in Auckland to await the result of the America's Cup.

Fast 2000's gallant campaign ended when their only mast snapped in rough (for America's Cup boats anyway) conditions. This accident occurred just as the team seemed to be mastering their twin rudder boat. Just the day before they had pushed current leaders America One to the wire eventually losing by 0:33 seconds. We may now never know whether the concept they introduced was an advancement in yacht design or not.

The Swiss did not give up easily with a desire to “be a part of the game up to the end.” The team turned their attention and hopes to using a borrowed mast. In true yachting spirit the Spanish Challenge offered their spare mast to the Swiss. Peter Gilmour summoned up the following dilemma by stating that “design and build is a fundamental point under which this whole Americas Cup is built. The Deed of Gift is quite clear on that matter so I don’t think it is a matter that other syndicates can actually waive. . . . We would like to see them be able to pull this off but I’m not sure that us signing a piece of paper solves the situation for them.”

When it soon became apparent that a number of opposing syndicates would oppose the Swiss borrowing the Spanish mast the team attempted to repair their broken mast. This proved impossible in the time available and with the limited funds the campaign had available.

Peter van Oossanen, co-designer of be hAPpy, on the twin appendage concept: “In hindsight two masts would have been probably better than two keels. However, we still believe in the concept . . . we feel that we might be on the verge of something that we could term as a sort of prototype of a new concept.”

Marc Pajot skipper of be hAPpy on the Swiss team’s withdrawal: “Today is not a very happy day for the FAST2000 team. The mast could not be repaired in an acceptable time and the decision has been taken this morning not to continue with the race. There is a lot of emotion in the camp this morning because as you know it is a small group, and we have tried hard, but the game is over for us today.”

I believe the Fast 2000 syndicate need to be congratulated for thinking outside the sphere and having the guts to even make it to the America's Cup with such a different boat. The other syndicates should think long and hard while they are racing around the course in the closing races of round robin three about their mean spirited move to deny the Swiss the chance to end their campaign with honour. While their opposition might well have been within the rules it was against the spirit of our great sport. For how many times have you lent a tiller extension/sail/mast to an opponent and been equally grateful when they have returned the favour?


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