It’s been a tough week for Oracle Team USA.
Just days after allowing a victory that was there for the taking to slip through their fingers near the end of the sixth and deciding race at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Oman, the America’s Cup defender wiped out in their AC45S test boat during a practise run in heavy air in the Great Sound yesterday.
Fortunately, none of the crew was injured while the foiling catamaran’s hull, wing and appendages did not suffer any damage during the mishap, which brought the team’s first training session since returning from Oman to a grinding halt.
“Great day out on the water, we had a good 15-20 knots, sun was shining,” Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle skipper, said back at the team’s Dockyard base.
“A few hours in unfortunately we had a capsize. The boat sort of went over, not through a nose dive, but actually sideways. So it was a really a good test of all of our on water safety procedures, and a real best case scenario. The crew all safe, there’s no damage to the boat or the wing, actually sailed back to the dock.
“Obviously we’re going to have a fair bit of electronic damage in the one hull that was in the water. The real reason for coming in was the electronics. We want to go through and check the electronic systems.
“That’s what happens in the sport, and I hope we don’t see too many more. But the fact is that’s where we are in the sport today, and we’ll learn a lot from this.”
Oracle are the second team to capsize during training in the past few months. Land Rover BAR capsized on the Solent last December in their AC45S test boat, dubbed “T2”.
“This shouldn’t slow us up too much,” Spithill said. “We’ll get a report from the guys and hopefully get back out in the next few days.”
Oracle are presently second in the overall World Series standings, six points adrift of leaders Emirates Team Zealand, who they beat with a stunning comeback to defend the “Auld Mug” at the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco.
This story appeared in The Royal Gazette on March 3rd, 2016.