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America’s Cup Yacht Is Damaged : Sailing: Young America should be repaired in time for defender trials.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An ill wind won’t blow Young America out of the America’s Cup.

The Maine-based PACT 95 syndicate’s new boat with the mermaid painted along the hull, damaged during Wednesday night’s storm in San Diego, will still be christened Saturday, as scheduled, and is expected to be repaired in time for its first race of the Citizen Cup defender trials next Friday against Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes.

Conner meets the third defense team, America 3’s all-female crew, Thursday to open the 3 1/2 months of trials off Point Loma leading to the Cup match against the survivor among seven challengers in May.

Young America is decorated with a Roy Lichtenstein mural of a mermaid nicknamed “Dusty.”

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“She may be scarred, but her spirit’s not broken,” skipper Kevin Mahaney said.

The boat sustained damage to its carbon-fiber hull when what was described as a violent water spout or “mini-tornado” selected the yacht’s compound from among six situated along the shore of Mission Bay.

“There’s a swath that’s cut right down the middle of a number of the parking lots and through the middle of our compound,” Mahaney said. “It just missed the others.”

Last month at the other end of Cup Row on Mission Bay, the French team’s boat fell 10 feet to the ground while being hoisted on a crane. Repair work still is under way.

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Wednesday night’s gust lifted PACT 95’s tent-like fabric-and-framework sail loft, which is as large as a basketball court, off its foundations and carried it onto the boat, which was ashore in its steel cradle.

The front of the cradle collapsed, and the boat fell part way over, into cargo containers surrounding the inner part of the compound used to work on the boat.

Cost of the damage was estimated to be in the high six figures by Mahaney. The 80-foot-long boat was believed to be insured against such loss--a critical point considering how the syndicate has struggled to raise funds.

The only damage was to the hull. The 110-foot mast remained up and intact. Like all the other U.S. America’s Cup boats since ’92, Young America was built by Goetz Boat Works in Bristol, R.I. Eric Goetz flew to San Diego Thursday to supervise repairs.

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PACT 95 spokeswoman Chris Goddard said the prognosis was generally optimistic.

“Most of the crew was over here five minutes after it happened,” she said. “And we’ve been getting calls from all over the city, offering help. One man called from Coronado just offering to help clean up the debris. It’s been wonderful.”

The nine other syndicates also offered assistance and equipment.

“We’ve heard from every single one,” Goddard said.

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When the wind lifted the sail loft, it also carried away dozens of sails from racks and the floor. They were being found and returned from various parts of Mission Bay, including Sea World.


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