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J Composites 2020 - LEADERBOARD

The aftermath of Patriot's massive capsize

by Mark Jardine 17 Jan 04:52 PST
NYYC American Magic's Patriot back ashore with a huge hole in the hull after their massive capsizes on day 3 of the PRADA Cup © COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

The PRADA Cup so far has been enthralling and day 3 saw the drama ratchet up to 11 when a vicious squall hit NYYC American Magic's 'Patriot' as she went for a tack then bear away at the final mark, had an issue with the port runner, went for a leap, then crashed down hard.

The decision to go for a tack rather than gybing around the other mark was questionable and the on-board commentary had Paul Goodison clearly stating the move was going to be difficult. With hindsight there's no doubt the alternative would have been taken, but it's all too easy to say that after the event.

Thankfully, it was quickly ascertained that the crew were all accounted for and are uninjured, but the situation for the yacht was serious. The boat was righted but floating dangerously low in the water. Ten miles out from the dock, they needed to stabilise the boat quickly, get the pumps working overtime and do all they could to stop it sinking.

Every single one of the teams came to help Patriot. They may be fierce competitors, but they are also ultimate sportsmen, and no-one wants to see a team in the kind of situation the American Magic crew were in. Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling was seen pulling and folding a sail onto their support boat. Through this combined effort, the yacht was stabilised and began a slow journey back to their base.

Well after dark the yacht was hoisted out of the water and the true extent of the damage was revealed. A gaping hole in the port side, just forward of the foil arm. The designers and boat builders will now be working through the night to assess what else is broken in Patriot.

The AC75 is rammed full of complex electronics, hydraulics, and a ton of technical wizardry that I can only hazard a guess at. As well as the visible damage, all of this will need to be checked, cleaned or replaced and tested. The team have until Friday to get the boat ready for Round Robin 3 or, failing that, the PRADA Cup Semi-Final begins on 29th January. Realistically, at 0-4 after two Round Robins that must be the team's goal.

Good luck to all at New York Yacht Club American Magic. The America's Cup needs all the teams to be racing to continue this fantastic spectacle.

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