Sailing: Teams trade insults

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SKIRMISHES BETWEEN boats from rival America's Cup teams on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf have triggered a police investigation. The pursuit of yachting's biggest prize is still eight months away but tempers are already reaching boiling point, and Japan's Nippon Challenge have accused Team New Zealand of nearly decapitating their helmsman.

Terry Newby, general manager of the Nippon Challenge, says the hull of the defending team's support boat came within 10 centimetres of Chris Main's head. "There was foul language and threats from the Team New Zealand chase boat driver," Newby alleged. "Chris is a tough lad, [but] it knocked the stuffing out of him."

The incident, which occurred late last week, was reported to the police maritime unit. Sergeant Lloyd McIntosh said: "We will not tolerate this sort of thing."

Team New Zealand deny that such an incident took place, but agree that strong words were exchanged between the two boats.