Oracle Team USA, the defender of the 34th America’s Cup, capsized its AC72 catamaran Tuesday on San Francisco Bay during a training session.
No one was injured, but the capsize left sailors hanging on to whatever they could grab to avoid plunging into the water.
The incident took place during the team’s eighth day on the water. Conditions were fresh, with the wind pushing against one of the strongest ebb currents of the year, creating a heavy chop. As the team turned the giant catamaran downwind, the bows stuffed and she pitchpoled.
“When the nose went down, the wing hit, and a few guys went in the water,” says tactician Tom Slingsby. “We were unsure if the wing would snap, so we all climbed off the boat.”
Click play for a slideshow of the catamaran.
The wing was destroyed, and the capsized cat was pulled out to sea on the strong current. The team brought it back to the base the following day.
“There’s no question this is a setback. This will be a big test for our team,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “But I’ve seen these guys in a similar situation in the past campaign before we won the America’s Cup. A strong team will bounce back from it. This won’t stop us from winning the America’s Cup.”
Click play for video of the capsize.
Each team competing in the 34th America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton Challenger Series can build two AC72s. This was the first launched by Oracle Team USA. The second is to be launched in early 2013.