Lucky escape for Artemis

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Artemis Racing endured an eventful outing in the Great Sound yesterday.

The Swedish challenger nearly capsized travelling downwind at 40 knots in their second AC45S test boat during a training exercise that almost went horribly wrong.

Italian helmsman and past King Edward VII Gold Cup winner Francesco Bruni lost control of the team’s catamaran while attempting a foiling gybe, but managed to recover and avoid wiping out on the racecourse for next year’s America’s Cup.

“We had an exciting day on the water in quite strong winds touching up towards 20 knots and it was event packed,” Iain Percy, the Artemis team manager and skipper, said. “We had an incident where the boat got 30 degrees to heel which normally means you are capsizing but somehow we managed to save it.

“What happens sometimes on these boats when you’re flying high is you lose steerage so whatever you are doing with the steering wheel doesn’t change what you are doing and we had an incident like that today at 40 knots.

“When you turn up into the wind, which is unfortunately where the boat decided it wanted to turn, it’s a lot of heeling force and fortunately the rudder literally attached and got flow back, and the grip came back on our tyre, if you like, and we managed to steer back down but not before the boat was 30 degrees over.”

Capsizing is not uncommon in catamaran sailing with Oracle Team USA, the America’s Cup defender, and Land Rover BAR having both wiped out in recent months.

Tragically, in the lead up to the previous America’s Cup in San Francisco, Percy was involved in a capsize that claimed the life of childhood friend and team-mate Andrew “Bart” Simpson. Artemis’s AC72 catamaran capsized, trapping Simpson under the hull, and attempts to resuscitate him proved unsuccessful.

Some of the safety protocols now in place came as a result of that tragedy.

“It’s a full on sport but fortunately in the America’s Cup arena the safety and first response teams have been advancing at the same speed as the technology,” Percy said. “A lot of work is done by the teams about safety response because you can’t expect to not capsize these boats and we need to be ready to respond to injuries or being trapped.

“These boats are dangerous but are quite tried and tested in terms of their structural integrity so they are holding together, which makes a big difference. It’s a little like a dinghy capsizing, only bigger.”

This Article Appeared in the Royal Gazette on April 16th, 2016.

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Lucky escape for Artemis