Try as he might, Russell Coutts couldn’t squeeze his 45-foot Oracle Team USA catamaran between the committee boat and teammate Jimmy Spithill’s catamaran during a race start last Friday at the America’s Cup World Series fleet racing championship in San Francisco.
Coutts hit the starboard side of the committee boat “at speed” with his starboard ama, coming to a dead stop. The crash damaged the forward edge of Coutts’ AC45 and punched a small hole in the committee boat, well above the waterline.
Click play to watch the crash.
“I thought there might be a gap there, and there wasn’t,” Coutts said in a statement. “It was a tough break. I didn’t think it was that risky. I thought [Spithill and crew] were going to turn down and start the race, and they just kept turning up and shut the door.”
Spithill said France's Energy Team had forced him to turn toward Coutts, closing the gap.
Coutts headed back to the repair yard and missed the next two fleet races. Oracle Team USA went on to win the San Francisco match racing championship. Spithill won the fleet championship, giving the U.S. team a clean sweep.