America’s Cup teams on board despite fatal accident

America’s Cup teams on board despite fatal accident

SAN FRANCISCO - Agence France-Presse
America’s Cup teams on board despite fatal accident

(L-R) America’s Cup Director Iain Murray, U.S. Coast Guard’s Matt Bliven and Golden Gate Yacht Club Vice Commodore Tom Ehman attend a news conference. AP photo

America’s Cup officials said on May 14 the premier yacht race is on course to take place as planned, despite the death of a veteran sailor from the Swedish team during training last week.

The accident that killed Artemis Racing’s Andrew Simpson had raised concerns that high-performance AC72 catamarans intended to rev up the event might be deemed too dangerous for sailors.

Simpson, nicknamed “Bart,” died when the Swedish team’s AC72 overturned while training on San Francisco Bay on May 9.

All four teams remain on board for the competition in San Francisco Bay, which gets underway in July with Louis Vuitton Cup matches to decide who takes on the champion Oracle crew in September.

“The America’s Cup will go ahead this summer,” the Cup’s external affairs director Tom Ehman said during a press briefing at Pier 27 in San Francisco.

“We will see the world’s best sailors racing at the highest level on the iconic San Francisco Bay.”

The AC72 boats in the America’s Cup have been described by event organizers as “speedsters” powered by 40-meter tall wing sails and with the ability to hydrofoil, essentially rise out of the water to reduce drag.

It will be the first time teams in the finals race with multi-hull boats tailored to an America’s Cup design rule that also calls for “shorthanded” crews of 11 members. Small crews mean those on board will have to hustle grinding winches, heaving lines, and tending to other tasks in high-speed races with lots of maneuvering.

Cup officials met with leaders of each of the four teams on May 14 to brief them on the make-up of a committee formed to look into the fatal accident and ways to make the 34th America’s Cup safer, according to Ehman.

The six-member review team included regatta director Iain Murray; Vincent Lauriot-Prevost of French multi-hull design firm Van Peteghem Lauriot Prevost; New Zealand Queens Counsel lawyer Jim Farmer, and veteran sailor John Craig.