AmericaOne's lime-green sail billowed loosely, a big rip near the bottom. There was no panic, just patience, as Paul Cayard steered from behind and evened the America's Cup challenger finals.
The sail was changed and AmericaOne beat Prada of Italy by 1 minute, 33 seconds today in the best-of-nine series, which continues Friday with the third race off Auckland, New Zealand.
For the second straight day, the team that made the dramatic mistake was the winner. Prada won the first race by 24 seconds after having to make a penalty turn for bumping the American boat in maneuvering before the start.
The series winner faces defending champion New Zealand in another best-of-nine round for the America's Cup, the top prize in the sailing world.
Cayard's boat trailed by 18 seconds after the third of six legs, three into the wind and three with the wind at his back.
As it was turning around the buoy at the end of the upwind leg, it set a gennaker, a sail used in light breezes when sailing downwind, but the sail ripped horizontally.
Had AmericaOne tried to turn, the tattered sail would have torn to shreds. So it kept sailing into the spectator fleet, where it got a push from better wind in the area.