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23 September 2005, 12:16 pm
Victory Challenge Breaks Mast
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America's Cup 2007
Trapani, Italy

Sweden's Victory Challenge suffered a setback on Friday morning when it broke its mast in an accident at the team base compound during preparations for the Trapani Louis Vuitton Acts 8 & 9 in Italy.
The team was preparing to launch Örn (SWE 63) with one of the four travel lifts the twelve teams share in Trapani. However when the travel lift started moving, halyards from the mast were still attached to anchor points. The resulting stress broke the mast, which tumbled to the side, much of it landing on the shipping containers that divide the Victory Challenge base from neighbouring Luna Rossa.

No one was hurt, and there was no damage to the Italian boat, which was in its cradle nearby.

In a statement, Victory Challenge said, 'the cause of the accident was human error under huge stress...the noise level in the team base compound was so high that warnings from the crew on the boat were not heard by the team member operating the travel lift.'

The teams generally anchor halyards off either side of the boat (either to the ground or to shipping containers) when it is in its cradle, to ensure the security of the boat in cross winds. But these must be released before the boat can be moved. Not doing so is a very small oversight, but one with enormous consequences.

It is a very unfortunate incident for the Swedish team which performed so well in its first races in Valencia, Spain this June. The team finished fifth in the match races of Louis Vuitton Act 4, a very strong debut.

Victory Challenge appeared to take a step backward in the Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Acts on their home waters, after switching to its second boat, SWE 73, with disappointing results. Consequently, the team shipped Örn (SWE 63) to Trapani from Valencia in an effort to recapture its early form.

The Swedish team were the first America's Cup team to take to the water in Trapini earlier this week, and sailed some practice starts against the French team K-Challenge on Thursday. Victory Challenge says it will fit its second mast into SWE 63, and continue its preparations within two or three days.

Peter Rusch. Image:© ACM 2005
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