Southern California's two America's Cup boats suffered their first serious blows Monday in the first round of challenger trials, losing to rival American entries.
Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes from San Diego lost by 33 seconds to New York's America II, and Rod Davis' Eagle from Newport Beach lost to San Francisco's USA by 2 minutes 24 seconds.
Officials of both losing syndicates said, however, that Monday's relatively light wind was a factor because Stars & Stripes and Eagle are set up for heavier winds anticipated later in the Australian summer. America II and USA are tuned for lighter air.
"(America II skipper John) Kolius had the speed downwind," said Sandy Purdon, executive administrator for Sail America. "USA's going to look good, (too,) but they're going to have their troubles when the wind comes up."
Stars & Stripes and Eagle will wait for their conditions.
"We don't want to do anything to (change) our boat," Purdon said. "When it gets to 15 knots and above, Stars & Stripes is the class of the fleet."
Although Sunday's races were postponed because of winds gusting to 47 knots, the wind did not exceed 13 knots Monday.
America II (6-1) rebounded on the second-last leg in the first clash of the top U.S. boats. Only 10 seconds separated the boats at the last (downwind) mark.
New Zealand's AZ7 (7-0) is the first round's only unbeaten yacht.