8 Jun 2017

America's Cup race conditions were within safe limits - officials

5:27 am on 8 June 2017

America's Cup officials have emphatically rejected criticism that racing in the challenger series semi-finals should have been called off yesterday due to high winds that damaged three boats.

Emirates Team New Zealand training during the 35th America's Cup, Bermuda, 2017.

Photo: ACEA 2017 / Ricardo Pinto

Team New Zealand was the worst affected, crashing out of its second race of the day and capsizing.

Today's racing has been postponed due to strong winds above the 24 knot maximum allowed for a race to take place. All four races will be held tomorrow.

The delay will be a relief to Team New Zealand, whose crew had spent all night repairing their catamaran and its "wing" sail after "pitch-poling" and nose-diving into the water during the race against Britain's BAR. The team said it's boat was ready to sail if conditions had allowed.

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Team NZ's boat capsized during the race against BAR. Photo: AFP

Regatta director Iain Murray told a daily media briefing that yesterday's racing was within the limits agreed unanimously by the teams, and any team had the right to withdraw if they thought it was unsafe.

"The teams have many many smart people in there, who've told me since the inauguration of this class that they will be able to handle sailing in these conditions," he said.

"It is their responsibility to bring boats and and crews to the competition that can handle the wind strengths that they have nominated."

Appearing to sense that the criticism was coming from New Zealand interests, Mr Murray spoke in detail about Team New Zealand's day in which they quickly swapped a damaged wing before Race 1 against BAR, then crashed out in the second.

"Team New Zealand damaged the lower section of the wing, they returned to dock doing 44 knots," Mr Murray explained.

They changed from their reserve wing, to their race wing which they were preserving for the America's Cup, and expedited their return to the course to do two more races."

" A decision made by Team New Zealand to take their best and scared wing to the race course."

Mr Murray had a slideshow presentation showing wind data at the time of Team New Zealand's crash was 21.7 knots - well inside the raceable start limit of 24 knots.

Team New Zealand has rejected suggestions that they have a special wing, and say both are identical.

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