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Sail Mail: Weekly Report from Auckland  Feb 10, 20:13

The rig and shore teams’ speedy recovery from Thursday's mast breakage on USA 71 had the guys back on the water Friday morning. With a new rig into the yacht by 0900, the sailing team did not miss a beat as Dicko & Co. logged another day of two-boat sailing on the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand.

“We continue to push technology boundaries so while we never want to break our equipment, it can happen in the ongoing development process,” CD explained. “These boats have such complex parts now that one small failure or breakage can trigger a catastrophic rig failure. We’ve been pushing these boats hard. It’s been two years since we last broke a rig in Valencia. We learned from that and we will learn from this as well. It is reassuring to know that if gear failure does occur, we are prepared to deal with it.”

As reported on the team web site on Thursday, USA 71, suffered some damage to the mast while in a race training session. USA 71 was racing in 15 knots of breeze downwind during an in-house training session when the top of the rig collapsed. The guys have been pushing these boats hard and we would rather learn the lesson now than during the Louis Vuitton Cup.

This was a race rig so we are disappointed as the piece that broke should not have broken, but we are pleased we discovered this weak link now during our race training. Sten Mohr, Bertrand Pace and the crew on board USA 71 showed great seamanship by responding quickly, minimizing the damage and getting the boat and crew safely back to shore.

Within 15 minutes of Thursday’s mishap, the New Zealand media were calling the base to confirm the reports that had been called in from the public who saw the top of the rig collapse. The New Zealand public is so tuned in to the America’s Cup that the media immediately learned of the mishap and it became a lead news item here Friday. A photo of the damaged rig ran on the front page of the New Zealand Herald, and TV crews were down at the base early that morning as we headed out for another day of training.

Thursday evening, the mast break notwithstanding, the team was hosted to a wonderful reception at BMW Team McMillan here in Auckland for the launch of Girard-Perregaux’s timepiece collection in the New Zealand market. Chris and Russell Green provided the 180 guests an update on the programme as Girard-Perregaux officially launched the brand here. It was a great evening attended b many of New Zealand’s movers and shakers and media luminaries. The team blog carried a behind-the-scenes report.

The guys are not sailing over the weekend so we will finish out this session with five days on the water next week. We will provide a report when the sailing session wraps next Friday.

--Jane Eagleson (USA)

Epilogue: New Zealand Herald's sailing writer Julie Ash told Jane on Friday that the mast breaking article was the most read story on their website that day, outstripping even Anna Nicole's death -- and the NZH site is the most read website in NZ.

Fast turnaround: Shore team manager Tim Hacket (NZL) had a long night Thursday, but was the man of the hour along with his very capable team, including...

...rigger Pete Waymouth (NZL).