Record attempt aborted after boat damage

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Sailing toward Cape Hatteras, the sail-racing yacht Maserati's windward rudder was seriously damaged Wednesday night after hitting a chunk of wood in the Atlantic.

The crew, skipper Giovanni Soldini and seven crew, returned to Charleston, S.C. where Maserati's rudder will be immediately replaced with a spare.

The boat set off for a 24-hour monohull record attempt. They were sailing offshore to place themselves in the perfect conditions of a cold front, which looked to be an excellent chance for high speeds. The record attempt was postponed because of the rudder damage and a missed opportunity to reach the best weather.

Soldini, reached on the phone, explained: "It was night, we couldn't see anything. We hit a chunk of wood with the windward rudder. Air bubbles formed along the side of the rudder: it doesn't work any longer and suffers from cavitation. We are forced to return to Charleston as we have no possibility of attempting the record in this condition."

The record attempt, monitored by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, is currently held by the VOR 70 Ericsson 4 for monohulls. Between Oct. 28-29 2008, during the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, Brazilian sailor Torben Grael and a crew of 10 people on board of Ericsson 4 sailed 596.6 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 24.85 knots.

The record attempt can be followed live on Giovanni Soldini and Maserati's website (www.maserati.soldini.it). The site contains news, videos and photos of the crew life on board, and provides continuous monitoring of the marine weather conditions, as well as online tracking to check the position and speed of Maserati in real time.