Sailing: Marshall expresses concern over boat safety

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The Independent Online
A TEARFUL John Marshall, the chief executive of Young America, the New York Yacht Club's America's Cup syndicate, said yesterday the fundamental error, which had led to his syndicate being eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Cup, was letting the design programme run on when time debugging the boats would have been more important.

He agreed that the team had never really recovered from its first boat buckling and nearly sinking in the second round robin of the event in November, and added: "Fear of the boat became a factor. The boat could have killed someone. While confidence was being rebuilt in the new boat, the crew were gun shy."

He warned that: "we're going to have somebody badly hurt in these boats" and called for a review of the rules about their structure and engineering. A report on the causes of his own boat's failure would be published by the end of next month.

The move by their West Coast rivals, America True, to throw their race against the French and so hand the sixth and final semi-final place to Le Defi, he accepted calmly. "Rationally, it is finished, though divine intervention is always a possibility." That would require the French to sink as they sail unopposed over the course to secure their place. The effect on the team had been "pretty devastating," he said. Over the next couple of months the project would be moth-balled.

Yesterday all attempts to complete the schedule of racing were abandoned as the wind were gusting 25 to 28 knots. The forecast is not good for today, but an attempt will be made to wrap things up. The semi-finals begin on 2 January.

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