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Swiss America's Cup challenge suffers setback

Alinghi's crew will have to wait for the rudder to be repaired before resuming training

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss challenge for the next America's Cup suffered an unexpected setback during training in the south of France, when the rudder on the yacht, Alinghi, was damaged.

"We were sailing normally at about 10 knots, when suddenly we heard a cracking noise," said Jochen Schümann, who was at the helm when the incident occurred.

Schümann, the German triple Olympic gold medallist, revealed that the submerged section of the rudder had been lost.

As a result, the vessel began to take on water, and the crew had to use the emergency pumps. The French sea rescue service also came to the boat's assistance.

Alinghi is now back on dry land and repairs have already begun. It is believed the damage is not too serious and Schürmann is hopeful the sleek black and red vessel can return to the water by the end of the week.

The incident, the cause of which is not known, happened on Tuesday evening off the port of Sète, where the team is conducting its training.

The driving force behind the Swiss challenge is Ernesto Bertarelli, the billionaire boss of the Serono biotechnology group. Team Alinghi is skippered by Russell Coutts, who won the last two Americas Cups for Team New Zealand.

In just over a year their multinational dream team will be competing in the Louis Vuitton Cup, the qualifying competition for the America's Cup.

by Roy Probert


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