Yacht racing and in the United States tragedy has overtaken the Swedish yacht Sverige in a semi-final qualifying race for the America's Cup when she lost her mast -- and the race.
GV & SV Sverige in harbour with crewmen aboard (2 shots)
SV Gretel leaving jetty
LV Observer boats in rough water
LV Start of race between Australia (furthest) and France (nearest) with Australia leading
SV & LV Observer boats watch Australia leading France by long way with Spinnakers set
LV Australia rounding buoy
LV Coastguard cutter
LV Start of race between Sverige and Gretel tacking and Sverige taking lead
SV & LV People watch from boat as Sverige passes buoy with spinnaker set
SV Gretel rounding buoy
LV & SV Sverige dismasted and wallowing in water (2 shots)
SPORT: YACHT RACING
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Background: Yacht racing and in the United States tragedy has overtaken the Swedish yacht Sverige in a semi-final qualifying race for the America's Cup when she lost her mast -- and the race. Australia's Gretel Two now leads their best-of-seven series by two to one.
SYNOPSIS: Before the race began off Newport, Rhode Island, on Sunday (14 August), Sverige was regarded as having a good chance of pulling ahead of her Australian rival. Now she has to win three of the four remaining races to get a place in the qualifying finals. There were winds up to thirty knots blowing when the first semi-final of the day began between the yachts France, nearest to the camera, and Australia.
Australia quickly widened her lead over France and it soon became clear that, for the French boat, the race would be a fiasco. She was soundly thrashed by Australia, which crossed the finishing line with a lead of eight minutes and 54 seconds. That's the widest margin ever since the America's Cup race went over to 12 metre yachts in 1958. Australia now leads France in their best of seven series by three to nothing, and is a virtual certainty for the finals starting August 25th.
In the second semi final Sweden's fast but erratic yacht Sverige took an early lead with Gretel tacking behind. The crew had high hopes??? of getting through to the final qualifying series -- and a chance to be the foreign challenger to take on the United States in the main races next month. Sverige had taken the first race, only to be defeated by Gretel last Friday (12 August).
But on Sunday Sverige seemed to have an insurmountable lead as she rounded the third mark two minutes and thirty seconds ahead of her rival. At that point Gretel had already hoisted a protest flag to complain about the dangerous conditions. The high winds had whipped up rough seas with waves eight feet (2.4 metres) high.
But the disaster hit Sverige near the half-way point when her 85 foot (26 metre) mast broke about 20 feet (6.1 metres) above the deck. The crew flew a protest flag but it was too late to save the day.