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America's Cup- Former Artemis crew member says danger is being ignored

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz on 9 Aug 2014
Bow on shot of Artemis Racing’s AC72 testing in San Francisco south bay, April 2013, Alameda, before the tragedy. Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing © http://www.sandervanderborch.com
Former Artemis Racing skipper and Team New Zealand tactician, Terry Hutchinson, speaks frankly with Alexa Lyons of Maxim magazine on the 2007 and 2013 America's Cups, and his views of the way the Cup is headed, particularly with the new wingsailed foiling catamarans.

He reveals that left the Artemis Racing before the tragedy which took the life of a crew member, double Olympic medalist, Andrew 'Bart' Simpson, over a disagreement about safety.

For the full interview right click here

How did you get involved in America’s Cup?

My mentor was Gary Jobson, who won the Americas Cup in 1977 for Ted Turner. He’s always helped me along. During my youth, the America’s Cup had a much bigger presence in the United States than, say, the Olympic Games for sailing. So it was always the goal. In 1998, I had the opportunity to meet the powers that be at America One, which was a syndicate out of San Francisco. I joined the team before the 2000 America’s Cup, where I was the mainsail trimmer and from there it just sort of rolled. In 2003, I was with Dennis Conner in Stars and Stripes and then, in 2007, I was one of two Americans that worked for team New Zealand. In 2011, I became the Helmsman and skipper of Artemis racing.

You were supposed to compete on that, which was representing Sweden at the America’s Cup. Then you were terminated. What happened?

I had a massive falling out with the owner of the team and the CEO about the safety of our yacht so they decided to terminate me. Ten weeks after my argument with the owner about the safety of the Artemis boat, the boat capsized in the San Francisco bay and one of the sailors was killed. It was a known thing that the boat was not safe. It was a tragedy. The guy that was killed was a good person and a father.

So you’re not exactly an advocate for the new style of foil-assisted sailing that was showcased during this last Cup and will, according to rules released earlier this summer, be the centerpiece of the 2017 competition. Do you think it’s getting safer?

Basically what they’ve done is reduce the size of the wings and the size of the boats, but they’ve allowed some more foiling control options for a higher performance. They’re going to be on-edge for sure because they’re smaller; there's less drag to the wind. Think about a car when you’re driving down the road at 60 mph and you stick your hand out the window, in essence, that will slow the car down. If you have a smaller car that’s capable of the same type of speed, but doesn’t have the arm sticking out the window, that car is inherently going to go faster. The boats will go faster, and they’ll be more dangerous and on-edge.

My personal opinion is that people leading the event aren’t applying any logic or reason. They’re just trying to make something that is perceived to be cool and have zero forethought into the actual consequences of what they’re proposing.

When you were taking part in the races, were people trying to discourage you from participating because of the possible danger?

Yeah, but it’s a fascinating game. The 2007 America’s Cup was about as equal of a sailing competition as you can possibly have. And you know, we on team New Zealand lost 5-2 to Alinghi and they had a better boat. The 2013 America’s Cup was a lopsided event until Oracle got their act together and it wasn’t the sailors who got their act together, it was the designers and the people behind the scenes that figured out a couple things to do. They changed the element of drag to their boat and all of a sudden the boat was faster. They changed the balance of the wing and they were able to get more performance out of their boat sailing into the wind. In essence, there was nothing team New Zealand could do to stop them.

For the full interview right click here


Following the incident with Artemis Racing's first AC72, in May 2013, the rest of the AC72 fleet was asked by organizers not to sail for two weeks, while a review of the boats and safety was conducted. 37 changes were made to safety procedure and equipment requirements. These included stress testing the boats under load, using processes already in place by other teams.

Artemis Racing, sailing their second boat, returned to race in the Semi-Finals only of the Louis Vuitton Cup, being eliminated after just four races.

Artemis Racing are believed to have entered the 35th America's Cup to be sailed in AC62's - a similar concept of boat, but smaller than the AC72's and designed to foil both up and downwind.

No official report was ever released into the causes of the break-up of Artemis Racing's AC72, except for a Coroner's Finding in UK as to the cause of death of her crew member.

The Artemis Racing incident followed the Oracle Team USA pitchpole and capsize, in October 2012. The boat broke up and the windsail was destroyed, however no lives were lost, and the boat was re-built and sailed again five months later. Oracle Team USA sailed a second AC72 in the 34rth America's Cup.

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