Sailing: Asura joins America's Cup casualties

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The Independent Online
A MAJOR crewing error led to Japan's Nippon Challenge becoming the latest to suffer expensive damage in the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland yesterday. Failure to secure a supporting stay saw the pounds 120,000 carbon- fibre mast snap at the mid-point and crash down.

The skipper, Peter Gilmour, had been in a struggle to keep his yacht, Asura, ahead of one of the favourites to win the America's Cup elimination series, Paul Cayard's AmericaOne, when the incident happened, but had also been penalised for being too close to the San Franciscan when completing the manoeuvre to keep the lead.

No one was hurt, and the Japanese have a spare mast to continue racing today if weather conditions allow. The wind yesterday was gusting up to 30 knots and shifting up to 35 degrees in direction. It was just such a shift that led to the first defeat for Italy's Prada challenge, which had been unbeaten since October. Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes was ideally placed to take advantage of Francesco de Angelis' plight, having been behind by 19 seconds, and the helmsman, Ken Read, made no mistakes to lead for the rest of the race.

New York Yacht Club rivals Young America were still modifying and strengthening their second boat after their first suffered spectacular structural damage on Tuesday, giving the Swiss their second win of the series. Dawn Riley's America True beat Bertrand Pace in France's Le Defi and John Kolius in the Hawaiian entry Abracadabra easily beat James Spithill in Young Australia.