Capsize Chaos

  • Oracle Team USA
  • Written on:

SAN FRANCISCO - ORACLE TEAM USA 17 – the team’s AC72 racing yacht – capsized during training on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at approximately 3 pm PT on San Francisco Bay. All crew are safe. It was the boat’s eighth day on the water since the launch in August.

“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.

“A big thank you goes to our shore team, our support crew and the U.S. Coast Guard as they were standing by,” Spithill said.

The team was training throughout the afternoon in San Francisco, with winds slowly building as the day progressed.

“We called for a bear-away as we were out training,” explained tactician Tom Slingsby. “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 continued. “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.

The boat and crew safely returned to the team base at Pier 80 early Wednesday morning, Oct. 17. ORACLE TEAM USA support boats were on hand throughout the training period, and they towed the AC72 from the capsize area near the Golden Gate Bridge back to the team base. The team is now assessing the damage.

“There’s no question this is a setback,” Spithill said. “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. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work, and we have to look at our plan now. I’m still confident in the team we’ve got and we can go out and win again.


Photo: Guilain Grenier/Oracle Team USA