Navy to see if the yacht could be salvaged


America’s Cup challenger replica louis vuitton bags trials off San Diego were thrown into turmoil yesterday when top contender oneAustralia cracked down the middle aaa replica designer handbags “like a cookie,” according to one observer, and sank suddenly in wild, windy weather during a race against fleet leading Team New Zealand.

No crewmen were lost or injured when the pale green, $3 million, 75 foot racer plunged to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean in about 500 feet of water less than five miles off Point Loma. The boat was considered irretrievable, according to Marcus Hutchinson, a spokesman for Cup organizer Louis Vuitton. Navy to see if the yacht could be salvaged.

Winds of 15 to 20 knots and steep, choppy seas also dismasted the new French entry, France 3. entries vied separately, both Dennis Conner’s Stars Stripes and the all women’s entry, Mighty Mary, were forced by the heavy weather to drop their mainsails and sail the course under headsails alone. Conner finally gave up and the women were easy winners.

But those mishaps paled by comparison to the oneAustralia disaster, which occurred a third of the way through the eagerly awaited second matchup of the top two challenger boats.

Team New Zealand rounded the second mark of the course 21 seconds ahead of oneAustralia. As the two boats charged back upwind, oneAustralia smashed into a wave and “snapped in the middle like a cookie breaking,” said veteran offshore sailor Renee Mehl, and began taking water at a rapid rate.

Skipper John Bertrand said he doesn’t know what broke. “We came off a wave and heard a crack,” he said, adding that the boat filled and sank in 2 1/2 minutes.

Support boats from both high quality designer replica handbags oneAustralia and Team New Zealand raced to pick up crew members from the water. Team New Zealand, the black boat that so far is undefeated in the Cup season, retired from the race out of respect for the lost boat and concern for the crew.

Conditions were at their worst for the fragile Cup racers, which are built for San Diego’s usual six to 12 knot winds. Race organizers don’t start races in winds of more than 20 knots, and sometimes will cancel racing in less wind if seas are extremely high due to offshore storms.

Bertrand said the crews from his cheap replica handbags own boat, France 3 and Team New Zealand all advised the race committee they believed conditions were excessive, but conceded the winds were “generally within the agreed conditions” for racing.

He said at the time of the sinking, winds were 20 to 22 knots at the top of the mast. Visibility was 300 to 500 yards because of rain storms, and swells were moderate, but topped with a steep chop.

He said the boat sank so quickly, it was all the crew could do to get off. “I told {helmsman} Rod Davis, I think we’re going to sink,’ ” he said. “It was pretty clear. And then I was in the water with Rod.”

The loss throws the challenger series for the Louis Vuitton Cup into confusion. The Aussie entry was second in the standings with 43 points, 12 behind fleet leader Team New Zealand with 55.

Both remain assured of advancing to the challenger semifinals March 18, and oneAustralia still will replica designer handbags advance replica louis vuitton handbags , but using an older boat.

This was the second oneAustralia to enter the series. The first boat raced the replica louis vuitton handbags first Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica two round Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags robins before being replaced by the newer model. Bertrand said he hopes to reenter the old boat in the series by Tuesday after seeking a bye Monday to prepare it.

“As I said to the boys replica louis vuitton , we’ll live to fight another day,” he said. But whether the Aussies will be competitive in the older boat is hard to judge.

Most observers reckoned they made significant speed advances with the newer boat, and only seconds had separated them in their cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk first encounter against Team New Zealand , which they lost.

Meanwhile, the dismasting is a death knell for France 3, which entered today in fifth place, eight points behind Nippon, which is nearly certain to take the fourth and final place in the challenger semifinals.

Nippon beat France 3 Saturday, and sixth place Spain wound up the winner over the French today after the mast came tumbling down.

It caps a disastrous year for the French, who dropped their first race boat from its crane during a launch last fall, extensively damaging it, then lost the keel and capsized the same boat two weeks ago during a training session.

The result on the defenders’ course draws that competition tighter. Stars Stripes had entered today’s racing tied with Kevin Mahaney’s Young America for the lead in the trials with 32 points, with the women’s Mighty Mary well behind with 14 points. Victories in this final round robin are worth seven points each, and high quality replica handbags china the victory their second in three races this round lifts the women’s total to 21.

When Mighty Mary’s mainsail broke down later, the two boats simply sailed around the course under headsails alone, with Conner finally dropping out. CAPTION: Chase boats scramble 1:1 replica handbags to pick up crew members of the yacht oneAustralia, which split across the middle during race in windy conditions and choppy seas.

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