VIDEO Team New Zealand’s mast breaks suddenly.

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The first day of racing at the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint-Tropez, the third leg of the SailGP 2023/24 circuit, ended in dramatic fashion, with Team New Zealand suffering a major blow when the mast wing of its F50 broke off. Look what happened to their F50, the 50-foot (15.50-meter) catamarans that take part in the rival America’s Cup circuit (which will be raced instead with flying monohulls) devised by Larry Allison and Russel Coutts (the duo that won the Cup with Oracle).

Team New Zealand's broken mast at the SailGp of France

What a bang! Team New Zealand’s F50 mast explodes at France’s SailGP

During a fairly successful first day of racing, Team New Zealand, after winning the opening race by some margin and subsequently taking a 6th and 5th place finish (ending the day in second place overall), suffered a breakdown. The mast of his F50 exploded while sailing, fortunately without causing any injuries. A full assessment of the accident and damage is currently underway.

F50s are one-design flying catamarans used in the SailGP championship. It is an updated version of the AC50s used in the America’s Cup, with some modifications including new control systems and modular wing sails. These catamarans are one of the fastest racing classes in history, with a predicted top speed of 52.2 knots (96.6 km/h). Unlike most one-design sailing classes with fixed rules, F50s are constantly being developed with modifications implemented simultaneously on all boats. This prevents a technological arms race while enabling performance improvements.

The rigid wing of Team New Zealand's F50 broke off in flight during a race at the SailGp in France
The rigid wing of Team New Zealand’s F50 broke off in flight during a race at the SailGp in France

The SailGP

Larry Ellison’s declared “war” on the America’s Cup is not recent history. A war that began in the early 2000s, when American billionaire Larry, founder of software giant Oracle Corporation, decided that his “whims” would include the Cup. Today, after Oracle Team USA dropped out of the America’s Cup, the circuit is in its third year and is run in stages around the world. Currently 10 teams are participating, and the current winners are the Australians, on their third consecutive title, led by Tom Slingsby. There are many America’s Cup sailors participating in the circuit, including Francesco “Checco” Bruni, Nathan Outteridge and Chris Draper aboard Japan, as well as Sir Ben Aisle and part of the INEOS Britannia team aboard Emirates GBR. Next stop? Sept. 24-26 in Taranto.

James Barbaro

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