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Conner launches second America's Cup yacht

Conner and his wife launched the second boat for his team  

LONG BEACH, California -- The man who has won the America's Cup four times and lost it twice has launched his second America's Cup class yacht for the 2003 series.

Team Dennis Conner has launched Stars & Stripes, USA-77 at a ceremony held at the team's training compound in Long Beach, California.

"There were a lot of smiles on a lot of faces today," said Dennis Conner after his wife Daintry launched USA-77 by smashing a bottle of champagne over the bow.

"This day symbolises how committed myself, our team, the New York Yacht Club and our corporate sponsors are to bringing the Cup home to America. It has been my dream for 20 years to win the Cup and return it to the east coast," Conner said.

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This is the first time that Conner has sailed for the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) since losing the Cup to Alan Bond in 1983 in Newport, Rhode Island.

For his successful 1987 challenge in Australia he chose to team up with his home club in San Diego and stayed with the San Diego Yacht Club for all his subsequent Stars & Stripes campaigns.

After a dismal result in New Zealand in 2000, when the NYYC's Young America Team did not even get into the quarter finals, there were some who felt that NYYC would not be back for 2003. So there was some surprise at the news that they had signed up with Dennis Conner.

It was also expected that Conner would be working with a tight budget for 2003, building just one Reichel Pugh design like his single boat campaign in 2000.

After persistent rumours, Conner confirmed that New England Boatworks in Rhode Island were building a second boat.

"With these new boats and our veteran crew of American sailors, I feel this is one of the best campaigns I've ever put together. The bare hull of USA-77 just left Newport, Rhode Island two weeks ago and here she is going sailing today, which is true testament to how hard our whole team has worked to make this day possible," Conner said.

The team has been training in southern California for four months with Stars & Stripes USA-66, which was launched in February, and USA-54. The team are expected to move to New Zealand in August.

The first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup four-month Challenger elimination series begins on 1 October. The America's Cup Match starts on the February 15, 2003.


• Stars and Stripes unveiled
January 11, 2002

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