Deja Vu All Over Again

Stuart Streuli

Team New Zealand will live to sail another day. But they are still shy of recording their first victory in what has become the endless 31st edition of the America's Cup.

Nearly 24 hours after melting down and dropping their rig in the churning waters of the Hauraki Gulf, the Kiwis were granted a reprieve from what seems to be the inevitable this afternoon when Race 5 in the best-of-nine series was cancelled for lack of wind.

Harold Bennett, the principal race officer of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, has been the subject of much criticism for his failure to start races in light airs on a pair of previous occasions during this Cup regatta, which is becoming longer and stranger with each passing day. But Bennett had little choice but to pull the plug on this afternoon’s scheduled competition, as a hoped-for sea breeze never materialized despite clear skies and searing temperatures.

It was a startling contrast to the previous day, when for the second time in what has become an embarrassing showing the Kiwis failed to complete the course. In this instance their undoing was a mast that folded some 25 feet above deck level after the bow of their beleaguered NZL-82 was buried in the third of a set of steep waves.

The aftermath of the accident left one of the lasting images of this remarkably uncompetitive regatta: the Alinghi boat, SUI-64, sailing to victory under spinnaker as a Team New Zealand crewman took a circular saw to his yacht’s damaged rig while cleaning up the splintered remnants of the failed mast. The Swiss now lead the event 4-0, and are just one race away from returning the Cup to Europe after a century-and-a-half hiatus.

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| Stuart Streuli|

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| A rare PG moment from the crew of the "Boobie Boat," which provided nearly the only entertainment on an otherwise dull day on the Hauraki Gulf.* * *|

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On a day better suited for water skiing than sailboat racing, there were few dramatic images on the millpond-like Gulf this afternoon. The closest thing that passed for excitement on the event’s media vessel was a visit from the appropriately labeled "Boobie Boat," where a small sorority of Team New Zealand supporters hoisted their halters skyward on command from a local radio DJ, whose station apparently sponsored the exhibition.

Boolah!

The only consolation for the Kiwis was that they put at least a temporary halt to the festivities for expatriate party boy Russell Coutts, who took to sea today on his 41st birthday. Coutts was hoping to give himself a pair of presents: his third overall America’s Cup victory and his fourteenth individual win in Cup competition, surpassing the record currently held by Dennis Conner.

Certainly, the champagne is on ice. And no doubt it’ll last another day.