Jul 23, 2002 – Long Beach, CA — Team Dennis Conners newest Americas Cup boat, Stars & Stripes USA-77, which was christened on May 26, suffered failure in the rudder shaft area, allowing water to flood into the hull. None of the 15 crewmembers aboard were ever in danger and no injuries were incurred. Onboard pumps and airbags were deployed immediately. Unfortunately, the boat could not be kept afloat and she went down in 55 feet of water near the south entrance to Long Beach Harbor. A recovery effort is currently underway involving a crane and barge and it is expected that the boat will be raised and returned to the Team Dennis Conner base camp this evening where the damage will be assessed.
Team Dennis Conners two new 80-foot sloops, both named Stars & Stripes, were partaking in a routine two-boat testing session, when at approximately 1:00pm, a large crack was heard and the rudder detached from the hull. The crew worked quickly to block the water, deploy the airbags and ready the onboard pumps.
Dennis Conner was taking part in a sponsor fulfillment event nearby when the incident occurred. He proceeded immediately to the site and helped direct the rescue effort.
“We feel extremely fortunate that no one was hurt. The hull appears to be in good shape and the mast is fully tensioned and does not appear to be damaged,” said Conner. “Our training program will proceed as scheduled, with the last sailing day on Thursday (July 25) and both boats being shipped to New Zealand separately during the first two weeks of August. Ken Read and other members of the afterguard will be departing Long Beach on July 26 to participate in the UBS Challenge in Newport, Rhode Island as planned.”