HFinally, everything seemed clear: three straight defeats, but then with fresh winds, the team advanced for the first time at a distance of half a kilometer. In fact, Dean Parker, captain of the American boat at the Prada Cup off New Zealand, should only have scored victory in the sixth Copa America elimination race at the finish line. But then, at the last windswept buoy, he heard a warning call, a bug, a technical problem – all within seconds. The American Patriot, launched meters in the air, turned with a dense mainsail away over its wing downwind and flipped over its port side.
Business reporter for South Asia / Pacific based in Singapore.
The eleven members of the team survived the unexpected rapid jump and capsized unscathed. The boat was quickly set up again. But when it was towed to the port, it began to sink. Race management called an emergency in Auckland in the evening, and the Coast Guard and supporters of the contestants rushed to help. The fact that the Italians of Luna Rossa, who were much late in the past, scored a safe victory after the end of the American competitor, only counted in the results table. The British “King of Sail” team, Sir Ben Ainsley, was unbeaten for first place with four wins after the first weekend of elimination races. The cup defenders, the New Zealand team, may have learned a lot from following their competitors’ races.
Accident after a “difficult maneuver”
Sunday became the first day of truth for the AC75 Cupper, which was largely untested under racing conditions. The gusty winds created completely different conditions from the light winds up until Saturday. The British, with their completely redesigned boat, proved their unexpected supremacy in this weather as well. In their first two races on Sunday, they beat Luna Rossa in the regatta despite missing the start. The second race, the Italians against the Americans, could watch the men relaxing from the bank. It must be worth it.
After three losing races, the US team began with a heavy burden. The Italians and Americans alike had technical problems: the Italian navigation was unsuccessful and they cut the regatta track several times. The communication system on the American ship appears to have stopped several times. This could be compensated, but bigger challenges had to be pursued: As the Patriot raced at top speed with the wind toward the last wind-obsessed buoy, British Olympic champion Paul Goodison on board warned of a “tough maneuver” Parker had just announced – who was supposed to be kept by the boat captain. , Which is roughly half a kilometer ahead at the last stop before the end, on its expulsion.
But Parker pulled it off as if drunk from the first victory at hand. In the leeward buoy, it turned exactly into a gust like at least 20 knots, then descended sharply at a maximum speed of nearly 45 knots (83 kilometers per hour). The rear pillar, which leads from the hull to the mast, remained stationary, so that the main sail could not open – colloquially, Parker and his men were unable to lift their feet off the throttle. The fate of the Patriot was decided. The New Zealand Corps was still on the new side of Lee’s yacht while maneuvering as helmsman and had no chance of recognizing the storm. Two seconds later, a disaster struck.
For helmsman Dean Parker, it must have happened in his hometown. In 2007 and then again in 2013 with the New Zealand team, he had beaten then-Luna Rossa in the finalists. But he lost the almost certain Cup 2003 before Auckland to Swiss club Alinghi. At the time, the New Zealand yacht collided at full capacity in bad weather and consumed up to five tons of water – a national disgrace.
Photos taken 17 years ago now remember the Patriot’s nearly demise. Barely held above the water by floating corpses, she reached the safe harbor in Auckland in the evening. For the next four days, the Americans will have to work around the clock to get their boat ready for the regattas next Friday.