Sailing: Farewell joke for Pajot after forced retirement

Click to follow
MARC PAJOT, making his Louis Vuitton Cup farewell, has been forced to pull out of the competition. But the skipper of the cash-strapped, damage-crippled Swiss America's Cup challenger, still managed to maintain his sense of humour when he offered some of his boat-builders to Mr America's Cup himself, Dennis Conner.

The final straw for Pajot's team came when their radical, twin-keel and twin-rudder Fast 2000 was dismasted on Friday. "The game is over for us today," Pajot said, but the commodore of his yacht club at Morges, Serge Oetiker, said they were even more determined to put a second campaign together.

Conner's Stars & Stripes became the latest of these carbon-fibre racing yachts to suffer structural damage when part of his stern peeled back like a sardine can minutes before his race against Italy's Prada. Quick action by the crew saved the mast - although their guest on board, Merritt Barber, was "banged about a little" in the mayhem - and the boat was hurriedly towed back to its Viaduct Basin dock.

That cost Stars & Stripes nine points, but an appeal for a 48-hour delay to allow repairs was granted. Consequently, the complete schedule for the remaining six races in round robin three was rejigged, including the fleet being given a day off on Wednesday, except for Conner, who will be thrown back in the deep end for a solo performance against Ed Baird and Young America.

In bright sunshine and in a perfect 10 to 15-knot south-shifting south- westerly, Paul Cayard's crew on America One contrived to look relaxed, despite losing to their San Francisco rivals, America True. This after they made a great job of shutting out True's helmsman, John Cutler, at the start.

Their tactician, John Kostecki, later blamed the confusion over the siting of the third turning mark, at the same time dismissing the effect of allowing True a passing lane on that second beat, and rejecting any suggestion that they had failed to capitalise on an attacking position on the final run.

The result means that, with the Spanish efficiently dispatching their Australian competitors, Cayard's great rival Baird and the New York Yacht Club remain in seventh position, which is one outside the cut at the end of this round robin. The top six now go forward to the double round robin semi-final, which takes place at the beginning of January.