ORACLE TEAM USA, the defender of the 34th America’s Cup, has capsized its giant AC72 catamaran on San Francisco Bay during a training session. No one on the crew was injured.
The capsize took place during the team’s eighth day on the water. Conditions were fresh, with building winds whipping up waves against one of the strongest ebb currents of the year. As the team turned the boat downwind, the front of the boat nosedived and the boat pitch-poled.
“When the nose went down, the wing hit and a few guys went in the water,” said tactician Tom Slingsby. “We were unsure if the wing would snap, so we all climbed off the boat.”
With the boat on its side, the sea conditions quickly inflicted damage on the wing. The boat was pulled out to sea by the strong current, and as darkness fell, the team was still working to secure the catamaran platform and bring it back to base. The wing is destroyed.
“There’s no question this is a setback. This will be a big test for our team,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “But I’ve seen these guys in a similar situation in the past campaign before we won the America’s Cup. A strong team will bounce back from it. This won’t stop us from winning the America’s Cup.”
Each team competing in the 34th America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup (the America’s Cup Challenger Series) can build two AC72 boats. This was the first of two boats to be built and launched by ORACLE TEAM USA. The second is due to be launched early in the new year.
Event organizers say the setback to the American team won’t impact the 2013 racing calendar.
“This is a challenge for ORACLE TEAM USA,” said Stephen Barclay, the CEO of the 34th America’s Cup. “The team will assess how to fix the damage caused by the capsize to this boat and will adjust its program as necessary. We expect them to be ready to defend the Cup as planned.”
Following the dramatic capsize and rescue of its AC72 on Tuesday, ORACLE TEAM USA has shifted to recovery mode on Wednesday, as the team works to salvage its America’s Cup boat.
The racing catamaran was towed back to the team base at Pier 80, upside down, arriving at 1:30am on Wednesday morning.
With the main element of the towering wingsail nearly “destroyed” according to skipper Jimmy Spithill, the team has been focused on recovering the catamaran itself, while boats have been sent out into San Francisco Bay to recover more parts of the wing.
The team has secured the platform to the dock is planning to lift it ashore in a way that minimizes further damage. This process should take place early in the afternoon.
“This is definitely one of the key moments in this campaign,” skipper Jimmy Spithill said on Wednesday as he looked at the crew preparing the catamaran platform so it could be hauled out of the water.
“This is a setback. Obviously we didn’t want this to happen. However this team has shown some real resiliency and been able to overcome challenges like this in the past. Champion teams have to overcome adversity and I’m confident we can do that. This is the team I want to be with in a time like this.”
From America’s Cup Media.