While out on the San Francisco Bay practicing for the 2013 America’s Cup, Russell Coutts and fellow Oracle team members James Spithill (AUS), Shannon Falcone, Tactician John Kostecki (USA), putting their two boats through their paces, Coutts showed off some acrobatics by flipping the AC45 wing-sailed catamaran over on it’s side.
In typical SF Bay wild winds and seastate, the capsize managed to cause some excitement for the spectators along the cityfront on Monday. With Coutts at the helm, and as the cat was bearing off in a pre-start, the AC45 pitchpoled at around 22 knots. They were able to right the boat after about 10 minutes with some damage occurring on the wingsail – where a hole was made in the fabric skin where Coutts fell through.
According to Oracle Racing.com, “We got caught in the pre-start at the wrong angle and paid the price,” said Coutts, who fell through the lower part of the front element of the wingsail. “The boats are spectacular, hard to sail. They’re gonna test the best sailors in the world. Luckily I had the crash helmet on.” During the incident crewman Shannon Falcone injured his ribs. “I didn’t think it was going to go all the way over.” Falcone walked under his own power to an ambulance waiting shoreside and was taken to the hospital for a precautionary X-ray. Though they came back negative, Falcone did suffer a dislocated rib cartilage and will have to mend.
Those bouncy trampolines between the hulls is usually were crew hang on when the boat goes over, but sometimes when the wingmast hits the water hard, they can be catapulted right off and into the water.
The AC45 demo sailing is part of a press buzz building up to Wednesday’s (June 15) announcement of the lineup of paid entries for the 2013 America’s Cup. Since the April announcement that SF Bay will host the 34th Cup, there have been 14 entries in addition to the Defender Oracle Racing including Emirates Team New Zealand and Swedish Artemis Racing Team who have become the new Challenger of Record. Other teams expected to race are the White Tiger from Korea, China Team, Energy Team from France and Italian Venezia Challenge. A surprise drop out is Italian Mascalzone Latino who were not able to raise the necessary $40 million to get to the start line in 2013.
All images courtesy of 34th America’s Cup, Oracle Racing and Gilles Martin-Raget and Guilain Grenier.