Byline: The Log Staff
SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle Team USA 17 — the U.S. America’s Cup team’s 72-foot AC72 racing catamaran — capsized during afternoon training Oct. 16 on San Francisco Bay. All crewmembers were reported safe, and it was only the boat’s eighth day on the water since its launch in August, according to a statement on the team’s website.
“We did something we had hoped we would never do, and that’s capsize an AC72,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “The most important part is that all the crew are safe, and no injuries.”
While the team was training on the bay, winds were slowly building as the day progressed. “We called for a bear-away as we were out training,” explained tactician Tom Slingsby, in a report on the team’s website. “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.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen with the new boat,” Slingsby said. “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.”
At press time Oct. 17, the boat and crew had returned to the team base at Pier 80. Support boats were on hand throughout the training period, and they towed AC72 from the capsize area near the Golden Gate Bridge back to the team base, Oracle Team USA stated. They are now assessing the damage.
“There’s no question this is a setback,” Spithill said in the team’s report on the incident, posted at oracle-team-usa.americascup.com. “It’s going to be a big test for this team. But, I’ve seen this team in a similar situation in the last campaign, before we won the America’s Cup. A strong team will bounce back, and this won’t stop us from winning the America’s Cup.”