In the first catastrophe for the America's Cup new generation of multihulls, Cup defender Oracle's
first AC72 cat has capsized on San Francisco Bay this morning and the team is struggling to salvage
the remnants of the boat.
In a spectacular pitchpole during a day's training on the harbour, Oracle's brand new racing machine
was left with both bows and the wingsail dug into the water. The task of recovering the boat in a
swiftly moving tide is becoming a precarious operation.
Witnesses say the 40m wingsail has been badly damaged, breaking into pieces after the impact, but
there are no serious injuries to the sailing crew.
There is a fear whether there will be "anything left" of the hi-tech multihull by the time it is towed
back to the dock. "A failed righting attempt turtled the boat, and 4+ knots of current have now
dragged the 72 miles from her capsize point, into the open water past the Golden Gate," Yachting
website Sailing Anarchy says.
Tactician Tom Slingsby, on board the Oracle AC72 at the time of the accident, said the wind was
blowing 25 knots and there was a strong ebb current at the time of the capsize.
"We started [to] bear-away, and as the boat accelerated it pitch-poled. We didn't know what was
going to happen with the new boat. When the nose went down, the wing hit and a few guys went in
the water. We were unsure if the wing would snap, so we all climbed off the boat," he says.
"Luckily, everyone is accounted for and no one was hurt. The wing is pretty badly damaged, and we
are working to get the boat back in position to return to Pier 80."
The Oracle team began towing the boat - still bows down - to their waterfront base.
Oracle was in the eighth day of the allowed 30 days sailing before February 1, under the America's
Cup protocol's cost-containment rules. The boat was sent back to the shed after its first day of
sailing after suffering daggerboard failure in the starboard hull.
So far only Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand have their AC72 catamarans on the water.
Artemis Racing is completing the build of its first boat in San Francisco, and Luna Rossa will launch its
only boat in Auckland next week.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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