American yacht takes flight and capsizes in Challenger Series race

New York Yacht Club’s American Magic were denied their first points in the Challenger Series when ‘Patriot’ capsized in the second race after encountering a massive gust of wind while going into a sharp turn at Waitemata Harbour in Auckland. The series will determine who faces Team New Zealand (TNZ) in the America’s Cup.

American Magic were leading Luna Rossa when disaster struck as their vessel went airborne and hit the water before falling on its side, handing their Italian opponents their second victory of the series from four races. All members of the American team were accounted for before efforts began to save the yacht with the two other teams in the series, as well as TNZ, chipping in.

“The team’s AC75 racing yacht ‘Patriot’ was damaged during the incident and began taking on water,” the American team said in a statement. “Efforts to stabilize ‘Patriot’ and get the yacht back to shore are currently under way. American Magic is sincerely thankful for all the assistance rendered to the team.”

A dramatic shift in the wind had earlier forced organisers to stop the day’s opening race with Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK aboard “Britannia” leading after four legs. The race was then restarted after the course was realigned.

Ineos Team UK cruised to an 18-second win over Luna Rossa in tough conditions on Sunday to make it four victories from four starts in the opening weekend.

In conditions that were vastly different from the light breeze teams experienced on Saturday, Ineos Team UK excelled to seal the win and put themselves in a commanding position.

The third round-robin races begin on January 22 with Ainslie’s side in a double-header as Ineos Team UK face winless American Magic first before meeting Luna Rossa. The winner of the series that ends on February 22 will take on holders TNZ in a series of head-to-head races from March 6 for the America’s Cup, known as the “Auld Mug.”

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