Oracle Team USA capsized its new America’s Cup Class boat during training on Bermuda’s Great Sound on Saturday.
No crew members were injured and early indications are that damage to the boat is limited.
In the video of the incident from MyislandhomeBDA, the AC50 is straightlining at the time in moderate winds, but surprisingly is not foiling. The leeward bow appears to submarine and when the AC50 emerges from that she flips over slowly.
There were two crew members to leeward, one in the helmsman’s position (with Jimmy Spithill in the helm spot to windward). Another was grinding in the forward cockpit to leeward. Two others were grinding in individual pedestals to windward. The wingsail appears to be well eased.
The AC50 was relatively close to shore at the time of the incident.
When she was righted the leeward hull cockpits were completely full of water, it is not possible to tell if any made its way through cockpit cavities into the hull below, which could cause damage to systems and cabling.
“We flipped over our new America’s Cup Class boat,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill at dockside about an hour after the capsize.
“All the guys are good. We went straight into our righting procedure, pulled the boat up, and brought it back to the dock,” he said.
“Now, we have to go through process of checking the boat out. The top of the wing has some flap damage, but we have the team to get us back out on the water and we’ll be back out to finish off this race period with the rest of the teams.”
The team expects to be sailing on Monday, when the next ‘race period’ resumes, a three-day session where teams are allowed to train in an organized manner in their new America’s Cup Class boats.
Spithill described Saturday’s incident as a ‘soft’ capsize, with the boat going over sideways relatively slowly as opposed to when the bows dig in at speed. This would have helped to limit the damage, if not the frustration.
“It is frustrating,” he admitted. “But the fact is, this is a real possibility in these boats. We have to go back through and figure out what led to it. But that’s all part of the learning process. It’s usually from these sorts of incidents where you learn the most.”
Writing in the Royal Gazette, Talbot Wilson reported:
“We were doing starting practice and bailed out of a bear away and unfortunately went over,” Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle skipper, told The Royal Gazette.
“When we started to go and I knew we couldn’t recover. I just said ‘hold on boys, we’re going over’, and it was a really soft landing.
“The big sail just captures the air between the sail and the water like a pillow.”
The crew emerged unscathed while the 50ft foiling catamaran suffered damage to its wingsail.
“The top of the wing has some flap damage, but our legendary shore team will have us back racing Monday,” Spithill, the youngsest skipper to win the ‘Auld Mug’, added.
For Talbot Wilson’s full report click here
The incident is the second for the US team in less than a week.
They had a near miss on April 6, on the first day of Practice Session 2 when OTUSA’s AC50 almost capsized after a high speed broach, but recovered right on the cusp in a scene reminiscent of rival Emirates Team NZ’s botched tack in Race 8 of the 34th America’s Cup when the team tacked with insufficient hydraulic pressure.
However like the Kiwis, Oracle Team USA recovered the situation before the wingsailed catamaran reached the angle of no return.
by Sail-World NZ, Oracle Team USA, Royal Gazette