San Francisco Bay took a bite out of the AC World Series teams on Saturday as training intensifies ahead of Championship Racing next week. Nine of 11 race crews were on the water during the afternoon, in building conditions.
Team Korea was the first to capsize. Before leaving the dock, skipper Nathan Outteridge had spoken of the need to be conservative in the early stages of training, but said his team would likely be pushing more and more each day. Saturday, they found out what happens when you push too hard.
“We were in a little race with Energy Team and we were trying to sail past them, so were really on,” Outteridge said. “And then I guess we found the limit of how far we can push it.”
One of the crew, Mark Bulkeley fell through the lower section of the wing, but was unhurt. The team had the boat up and sailing within a couple of minutes. The wing needs repairs, but the team is expected to be ready for racing in a couple of days.
The second capsize of the afternoon was more damaging. Luna Rossa Swordfish went over later in the afternoon with the wind gusting over 20 knots. The boat remained capsized for over half an hour, and there was significant damage to the wing. All the flaps were removed and brought in by chase boat and the wing mast is damaged as well.
“We were in a pre-start practise and we bear off and that was it,” said skipper Max Sirena. “It was pretty windy, over 25 knots, and the wind was against the tide (causing waves). Sooner or later, where you push the limits, it is going to happen.
“The big damage came when we went down. The boat came back up with bow up and stern down as part of the capsize. This is when the damage occurred.
“The wing is certainly not in good shape. So we will use a new wing and are hoping to sail again on Monday. We’ll know more tomorrow.”
Earlier in the week, Artemis Racing also capsized during training. The strong conditions in San Francisco mean the sailing is ‘on the edge’, all of the time.
“The last few days we’ve had a little bit of an ebb tide and some pretty strong sea breezes, so it’s been pretty ‘exciting’ on the race course area,” said ORACLE TEAM USA tactician John Kostecki, who remained on shore today.
Many of the sailors returning to base today from the other teams spoke of near misses as the crews continue to adjust to the strong winds and choppy waters of San Francisco Bay.