Wednesday, July 31
Stars & Stripes being shipped in cargo container

Associated Press

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Stars & Stripes, Dennis Conner's new America's Cup yacht that sank off Long Beach last week, left for New Zealand on Wednesday aboard a container ship.

The trip to Auckland was scheduled to take 15 days. Once there, Stars & Stripes (USA-77) will be repaired, and Conner's team hopes to have it available for the start of the America's Cup challenger trials on Oct. 1.

Conner's other yacht, also named Stars & Stripes (USA-66) will be shipped to New Zealand next week.

USA-77 sank in 55 feet of water about a mile off Long Beach on July 23 after the rudder post broke off, leaving a 14-inch hole in the hull. The $5 million sloop was lifted out by a giant crane hours later.

USA-77 was inspected by Team Dennis Conner's engineers and had a full ultrasound to determine the extent of the damaged caused when the bow hit the bottom.

Although the 80-foot yacht generally had a soft landing in mud, the deck was damaged by water pressure and the forward topsides of the hull were damaged when the bow hit the bottom with no deck support.

``It's like a little bit of a crumple zone,'' said Bill Trenkle, a sail trimmer and director of operations for Team Dennis Conner.

The deck will be the easiest part to fix, Trenkle said.

``We believe in any case we should be sailing it by the second week of September,'' he said.

The boat's designers and engineers know what caused the rudder failure and can prevent it from happening again with one design modification, Trenkle said. Details of the rudder failure are being kept confidential because of the sensitivity of the design information.

Conner has won and lost the 151-year-old America's Cup more than anyone in history, with four victories and two losses.

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