Reprinted from yesterday's editions
-- One loyal Kiwi sailing fan hung a banner from his boat today expressing solidarity with Team New Zealand on what could have been its last day in this America's Cup. "You'll Never Sail Alone," it said. It might as well have read, "You'll Never Sail."
For the seventh time in 11 days racing was canceled because of the weather, delaying for at least a day match point of this best-of-nine series between the Kiwis and the Swiss challenger Alinghi, which leads 4-0.
Team New Zealand rushed a replacement mast onto its black race boat overnight after a catastrophic dismasting in strong winds Friday. But expected sea breezes never materialized and the Kiwis were unable to try out the new rig in battle.
After a two-hour wait, racing was postponed until Sunday, when a stronger breeze is expected.
The match has been plagued by weather problems since Feb. 18, when Alinghi beat Team New Zealand by 23 seconds in moderate winds to go up 3-0. The teams then sat idle for nine days as first light winds, then storms made racing impossible. They finally went to sea Friday in rough seas left over from the storms.
It was a sad day for New Zealanders as the black boat broke down midway through the race, marking the second time in four races TNZ was unable to complete a race in rough conditions. No defender in the Cup's 152-year history had ever before broken down twice, and Kiwi Cup boats historically have been reliable. Syndicate chief and design coordinator Tom Schnackenberg, a key member of the 1995 and 2000 winning teams, said preparations for this Cup were not much different from the earlier ones, but conceded the team did not test all its gear as thoroughly as it might have for fear of breaking down.
"With only two rigs [masts] we didn't want to break one in training because that would slow down all the development work we were doing on rudders, keels, sails and so forth," said the 57-year-old designer.
Schnackenberg also said, in hindsight, "We could have been more conservative in design, to say maybe we don't have to be the lightest here or there. We've been aggressive cutting weight, but when you do that, you get closer to the margins."