Oracle's AC72 catamaran badly damaged

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:57 17/10/2012
Oracle's AC72
TIPPED OVER: Oracle's AC72 in San Francisco Bay.

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Oracle's new giant America's Cup catamaran capsized during testing in San Francisco Bay today with its wing sail "badly damaged" but fortunately no crew injuries.

It's the first major mishap in the huge boats that will be used in next year's event.

The accident comes as concerns grow about their suitability for racing in yachting's biggest prize.

Oracle are the America's Cup holders, headed by New Zealander Russell Coutts, and were intrstrumental in pushing the design of these cats for the event.

The accident came in 25-knot winds with Oracle testing the boat for the eighth time.

"We called for a bear-away as we were out training. The winds were blowing about 25 knots, and there was strong ebb current at the time. We started the bear-away, and as the boat accelerated it pitch-poled," said Oracle tactician Tom Slingsby.

"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.

"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."Team New Zealand have been testing their AC72 in Auckland.

Swedish syndicate Artemis are set to launch their boat in San Francisco, while Italian syndicate Luna Rossa will launch theirs in Auckland on Friday week.

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- Fairfax Media

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