U.S. challenger American Magic is assessing the extent of damage to its racing yacht Patriot, which capsized and came close to sinking during racing Sunday in the America’s Cup challenger series.
Skipper Terry Hutchinson said American Magic is confident of making repairs and being able to continue in the Prada Cup series, which resumes in Auckland on Friday.
Patriot, which lost its first three races in the challengers series, was leading Italian challenger Luna Rossa when it capsized rounding the final mark. The U.S. team attempted a complicated maneuver at high speed but was caught by a sudden blast of wind and soared out of the water before tipping over on its port side.
All 11 crew were quickly accounted for and none was injured. There were fears Patriot, which was damaged below the waterline, would sink and a buoy was fixed to the top of the mast to mark its position in case it went down.
Rival teams raced to the assistance of the American crew, along with police and fire officers. The boat eventually was hoisted upright and pumped out and, after several hours, was towed back to its base in downtown Auckland, where it arrived around midnight.
Hutchinson said “there was definitely a lot of concern” that Patriot would not be saved.
“When you start attaching things to the top of the mast, you know that’s not a good situation,” he told reporters on the dock. “But we’ll assess the situation. Obviously the boats are highly complicated on the inside. We’ll have a good look at her and figure out where we go from here.
“We obviously sustained some damage to the bow of the boat,” he continued. “It’s too early to really comment on how long it takes or the extent of it. We’ll get a better look at it when we get Patriot in the shed and from there we’re going to keep our sights set on the semifinal, get our feet back on the ground.”
Competing boats are expected to be available to be measured in their race set-up by Wednesday afternoon. Hutchinson said he is confident American Magic will be able to continue in the regatta in which it represents the New York Yacht Club.
“I’m exceptionally confident in the team,” he said. “I’ve always been confident in Patriot and the performances she’s shown and I think we’ll have to keep it in perspective: we’re here, no one was hurt which is a major bonus and we go forward from there. It’s the America’s Cup; we have to be prepared to fight for it and we will.”
Hutchinson thanked those who raced to Patriot’s assistance, including America’s Cup defender Team New Zealand which helped to save Patriot and tow it back to base, providing pizza for the tired and hungry crew.
“I do need to make sure I say thank you to the local authorities — the fire department and the police — and particularly to Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa and Team Ineos for the support they gave us on the water,” he said.
“Team New Zealand in particular helped tow us back to the dock for three and a half hours.
“In these moments, you get the true sense of what competitors can do for you and how we should all treat each other. They showed a great display of sportsmanship.”
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