Please select your home edition
Edition
Kiwi Yachting Safety at Sea

America's Cup - High Drama

by Richard Gladwell on 17 Oct 2012
Bows bury in bear away - Oracle Team USA capsize AC72 Oct 16, 2012 Erik Simonson http://www.pressure-drop.us">www.pressure-drop.us http://http://www.pressure-drop.us">www.pressure-drop.us
As we write this we are watching two screens. On one, a webcam is tracking Emirates Team NZ's ASC72 as she puts in yet another training session on the Hauraki Gulf sailing in winds that are averaging 25kts gusting 35kts.
And on the other, in San Francisco, Oracle Team USA's AC72 has capsized, and has drifted out into the Pacific Ocean.

We are watching a live video of the boat which is upside down, semi-sunk and surrounded by a coterie of RIBs.


Assuming the boat can be recovered (we're assuming she will come back in when the tide turns) the capsize is a major setback for the Defender.

Their hull repairs may unlimited, provided they don't modify the hulls in which case they are limited to 50% of the original hull surface. However the rule is not 1000% clear on the difference between a modification, repair or replacement, and a trip to the Int Jury for clarification is likely. Exceed the 50% modification and Oracle Team USA could not build a second boat.

The wingsail is destroyed - leaving the team with just two wingsails - to be shared between two boats - assuming the current boat is repairable. The Protocol prevents more that 50% of the original being replaced.

Oracle would be expected to be in the early stages of construction of their second boat, but that is not allowed to sail before February 1, 2013.


The capsize occurred about 3.00pm local time (11am NZT) after Oracle Team USA was out for a training session in an ebbing tide and 25kts. We believe the tide in the area flows at about 5kts and against a 25 kt wind, that would have been quite a seaway.

The incident occurred as Oracle passed through the 'Death-Zone'. That heart stopping moment when a boat bears off and heads downwind accelerating readily. Generally the bows go deep and then emerge with spray and water flying. In this case that didn't happen and Oracle went down the mine. From watching video it would seem at first blush that the issue was a lack of buoyancy forward. The fine wave piercing bows drove in and never emerged, tripping the boat.


It is now night-time in San Francisco, the boat is still at sea, with the wingsail reportedly unrecognisable (and clearly beyond repair). She is reported to have arrived back at Pier 80 around midnight local time after a long tow from several miles the other side of Golden Gate Bridge.

Whether the hulls are any better remains to be seen. There is a high risk, due to damage and limitation on hull alteration, that the US Defence just became a one-boat program. That would take away a lot from the 34th America's Cup.

In high definition video not publicly available, taken after the capsize and the collapse of the wingsail, the AC72 seems to be remarkably tight and intact. Whether that is still the case remains to be seen in the hard light of day.

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]

Kiwi Yachting - LewmarHarken and Fosters -  Harken WinchesBailey Insurance

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line - Timeout in Bermuda and a decision OTUSA will regret?
With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath from what has been a hectic couple of months, both in Auckland and Bermuda. The third major Practice Session has concluded in Bermuda. This was conducted almost entirely if winds of around 16-25kts - starting to get close to the top end of the range for the AC50's.
Posted on 20 Apr
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on hitting the AC50's sound barrier
These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. The big difference between the AC72, the America's Cup Class, used in the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and the smaller AC50 to be sailed in Bermuda, lies in their light and medium air performance. 'These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. In 7-8-9-10 knots of breeze, you are sailing at 30kts at times.
Posted on 18 Apr
America's Cup - Bernasconi on expected winning factors in Bermuda
ETNZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie Emirates Team NZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie once the six teams entered in the 35th America's Cup. 'We have had a great run', he says. 'We've had a few hiccups along the way, as always. But the boat is going really well. We are getting through manoeuvres very well. And we think our straight line speed is good.'
Posted on 18 Apr
America's Cup - Team NZ return fire at Coutts' social media bullets
Emirates Team New Zealand have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers Emirates Team NZ have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers in a media release on Thursday (NZT) over the team's daggerboard use. In the release, replayed by America's Cup Events Authority and Oracle Team USA CEO Sir Russell Coutts on his Facebook page. It was claimed that the Kiwi team had an issue with daggerboards and were using a rule they had not supported to keep sailing
Posted on 2 Apr
New Pacific 52 class makes its debut in San Francisco
The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. The first of two new-build Pacific 52's from Auckland's Cookson Boats is now sailing in San Francisco. Invisible Hand for San Francisco's Frank Slootman replaces his earlier RP63 of the same name. She will soon be joined by a second Cookson build, Bad Pack (Tom Holthus) from the same moulds. A third, RIO 52 is for RIO 100 supermaxi owner Manouch Moshayedi.
Posted on 18 Mar
Securely moored to the quay, or cast adrift?
With boating, you have to cast the lines off in order to go and get into it. With boating, you have to cast the lines off in order to go and get into it. However, when it comes to your insurer, you kind of expect that they’re going to be as bound to you as the standing rigging is to the mast, the ring frames to the hull, or the engine mounts to the runners, and the propellers to the shafts, skegs and cutlass bearings. Whom would you rather be insured with?
Posted on 15 Mar
Gladwell's Line - Of Carnage, Characters and Colour
About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched About this time of an America's Cup season, the sap begins rising as new boats are launched, and Cup fans get their first sight of the various team designers' response to the latest America's Cup Class rule. In the monohull days, of course, we initially only got a partial glimpse thanks to the shrouding practices adopted by all teams to hide the nether regions of their America's Cupper
Posted on 13 Mar
So what’s it really like?
For ages now, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and 24-hour runs For ages now, well it seems like that anyway, these editorials have talked about multihull this, record that, outrageous boat speed and incredible 24-hour runs. In their own very unique way they totally represent the technical avant-garde, and thank God for that. Where would we be without their impressive shapes, wonderful rigs, and now of course, foiling magic.
Posted on 6 Mar
JJ Giltinan 18ft - Kiwi Champion the subject of two protests in Sydney
Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings on Friday Overall series leader Yamaha will have her position put on the line in a series of protest hearings Friday morning in Sydney. She faces two claims - both from Appliancesonline (David Witt). The first is an attempt to re-open the Hearing held on Wednesday morning after Yamaha was suffered damage in Race 3 as a result of a collision with a give way yacht, and Yamaha received redress of average
Posted on 3 Mar
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon. The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in Sail-World.com that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.
Posted on 16 Feb