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10 November 2001, 04:29 pm
Team NZ Rig Failure
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photo:Glenn Jeffrey

America's Cup

Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker dismissed yesterday's incident in which the mast and rig crashed over the side of NZL57 as a "hiccup we could do without," but admitted it has raised some far-reaching issues.
"It was not boat-threatening and, thankfully, no one was injured," said Barker who was preparing for a second training race of the day against fellow Team NZ skipper Bertrand Pace when the rig on Pace's boat broke above the second spreader.

"We had been out in the gulf for about four hours and were near one of the weather buoys when a 25 knot squall came through. The real concern is that this is the second Millennium rig to break in the past month. There has to be questions now about the rig concept."

The rig on Peter Gilmour's One World suffered the same fate a few weeks ago. The rig on NZL57 was the one used by Team New Zealand in its successful cup defence. At the time the Millennium rig was regarded as being innovative - the first of its kind and was copied by the One World syndicate.

"We are not sure what caused it," Barker said. "It only needs one small failure in the rig for something like this to happen. There was no warning. I realised something was wrong when I looked over and saw the mast in the water.
"The biggest problem was getting the sails back on board. That is always difficult as you don't want to do any more damage. "Incidents like this make you realise just how fragile these boats are. Given good conditions, we hope to be back out tomorrow. We are lucky we have a spare mast."

Barker paid tribute to Prada, who had two boats on the water yesterday, and One World, who were quick to offer assistance. "We were okay but were grateful for the offer. No one likes to see serious damage like this. It is not what we are about. It is part of the game but you do not wish it on anybody. It is not just the value of the mast itself," said Barker. "It is lots of things. The mast is certainly repairable. Sure, it is a setback but it is part of America's Cup racing."
Terry Maddaford/News Editor
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