A boating outing for the Oracle racing team training for the America’s Cup in the San Francisco Bay turned into a upside-down surprise when their 72-foot catamaran capsized and was pulled out to sea. There were no injuries.
The 11-member Oracle racing crew, along with additional sailors on board for the training, were sailing the $8-10 million ship, an AC72, around 3 p.m., PDT Tuesday when strong winds caused the craft’s bow to heave and slam sideways into the bay just off the shore, a team spokesperson told ABCNews.com today.
In an incident description on the team’s website, tactician Tom Slingsby said the wind was blowing at about 25 knots and as the crew was turning the boat away from the wind it went over.
“When the nose went down, the wing hit and a few guys went in the water,” Slingsby said in the release. “We were unsure if the wing would snap, so we all climbed off the boat.”
While the entire crew all made it back to shore aboard support boats, the AC72, designed to “fly on water,” was pulled out further into the sea.
Safety boats dispatched by the Oracle team to tow the bow back had to give in to the tide and follow the boat along as it was swept at least four miles past the Golden Gate Bridge. It took until 1 a.m. Wednesday, after the tide had passed, for crew to return the boat to its home base at Pier 80.
Crew members will pull the boat out of the water today and then begin the process of conducting a damage assessment, according to the team’s spokesperson.
“We did something we had hoped we would never do, and that’s capsize an AC72,” skipper Jimmy Spithill said in the team’s online statement. ”The most important part is that all the crew are safe, and no injuries.”
Spithill was also skipper in 2010 when the team won the 33rd America’s Cup. The training run was part of their preparation for the 34th America’s Cup finals which will be held next summer in San Francisco.
“There’s no question this is a setback,” Spithill said. “This will be a big test for our team…I’m still confident in the team we’ve got and we can go out and win again.”