Oracle Team USA capsizes 45-foot catamaran in Bermuda
SAN DIEGO (AP) Two-time defending America's Cup champion Oracle Team USA capsized a 45-foot catamaran while training in Bermuda on Wednesday.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill said there were no injuries to the six sailors aboard and only slight damage to some electronics when the boat rolled over onto its port hull, the tip of its wing sail resting on the water. The boat was quickly righted and sailed back to the dock. He anticipates the crew will be sailing again on Thursday.
Spithill said the boat was gybing in 15 to 20 knots of wind and powered up quickly and rolled over.
''That's what these boats are like,'' Spithill told The Associated Press by phone. ''You're pushing it. This isn't the first capsize and probably won't be the last one.''
There have been several capsizes since the America's Cup went to catamarans starting with the 2013 regatta. The worst was when British sailor Andrew Simpson was killed when Artemis Racing's catamaran broke apart when on a test run on San Francisco Bay in May 2013.
Spithill said Wednesday's accident was a less-serious crash than when Oracle's 72-foot catamaran pitch-poled, or capsized end-over-end, on San Francisco Bay in 2012, causing significant damage.
''That's the difference when you do it sideways,'' Spithill said. ''The key point is once you're over is getting the boat up quickly. We've got a great procedure in place, an action plan, and it's good to be able to put that in place and see if it works. The guys were able to get the boat up really quickly. If you can do that, there really is minimal damage.''
Spithill said it was similar to a race in the 2013 America's Cup when Emirates Team New Zealand's 72-foot catamaran rose up on one hull and hung in the air for a few heart-stopping seconds before righting itself. Spithill expertly steered his boat away from a possible collision. Oracle rallied from match point in that series to win eight straight races and retain the Auld Mug.
''It's never a good feeling,'' Spithill said. ''Everyone's trained for it. It's just a fact of the sport now that when you're pushing that hard it can happen anytime.''
The accident happened just three days after an America's Cup World Series regatta ended in Oman in light conditions.
The next stop on the America's Cup World Series circuit is New York May 7-8.
''Given how much the teams are pushing now, it'll be an exciting thing in New York,'' Spithill said. ''Imagine if we get certain conditions. It's just a fact of these boats.''
The 2017 America's Cup will be sailed in Bermuda.
Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson