Can the U.S. Still Win the America’s Cup after Patriot’s Dramatic Crash?

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If you didn’t see last weekend’s dramatic crash of the U.S. America’s Cup contender, Patriot, you’ll want to watch it.

Other than bumps, bruises and damaged egos, nobody was hurt when Patriot crashed hard on her port side, but the boat suffered serious damage and nearly sank. If not for a coordinated effort by American Magic’s competitors and New Zealand’s emergency services, salvagers would be working to get Patriot off the bottom of the Hauraki Gulf.

Patriot slammed down on her port side and nearly sank.

Patriot slammed down on her port side and nearly sank.

It took nearly three hours, but in a Herculean effort Patriot was kept afloat and lifted back onto land where the large hole in its carbon fiber hull could be seen just in front of the port foil.

So, what does it mean for the American Magic team? For starters, they will automatically be relegated to the last place in the preliminaries. Patriot was already 0-3 before the crash, and the British boat will only need one more win to be declared the winner of the preliminary rounds. If the Italians can’t beat the Brits in both of the remaining preliminary races this weekend, they will finish second in the round-robin competition. The Americans are already guaranteed to be third and last, which means they will not get the first-place bye into the Prada Cup finals.

The hole in the hull undergoes repair in the American Magic shed.

The hole in the hull undergoes repair in the American Magic shed.

The American Magic team faces many hurdles. The hull needs to be repaired, electronics need to be replaced and the team’s spirits need to be lifted—no small chore after going 0-4 and damaging their boat in a risky maneuver—but not all is lost.

Not only did the Brits and the Italians help save Patriot, but so did the New Zealand defenders, who have told the Americans they will supply whatever resources necessary to get them back on the water in time for the Prada Cup semifinals.

If the American Magic team can get Patriot ready for the semifinals—where they will most likely face the Italians—and if they beat them, they will earn a slot in the Prada Cup finals against the winner of the preliminaries (most likely the Brits). If Patriot then beats the Brits to face the Kiwis in the America’s Cup and if they then beat the New Zealanders on their home turf, they will bring the cup back to New York and Newport, Rhode Island.

Those are a lot of ifs, but Duncan Johnstone of New Zealand’s Stuff believes that if the Americans can get their boat back on the water in time for the semifinals they should have a lot of good data from their last race against the Italians that might help them go faster.

The Brits and Italians will race this weekend. If American Magic wants to stay in the game, Patriot needs to be fixed and tested before January 29 when the semifinals begin. The team is working around the clock to repair the boat, so the next week will obviously be critical.

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