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AC72 cat dismasted in trial sail

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Oracle Team USA, defender of the 34th America’s Cup, capsized and destroyed its 72-foot catamaran in a training sail in mid-October in San Francisco. No one on the crew was injured.

The capsize took place during the team’s eighth day on the water. Conditions were fresh, with building winds whipping up waves against one of the strongest ebb currents of the year. As the team turned the yacht downwind, the front nosedived and the boat pitch-poled.

“When the nose went down, the wing hit and a few guys went in the water,” tactician Tom Slingsby said in an America’s Cup statement. “We were unsure if the wing would snap, so we all climbed off the boat.”

With the boat on its side, the sea conditions quickly inflicted damage on the wing. The boat was pulled out to sea by the strong current, and as darkness fell, the team was still working to secure the catamaran platform and bring it back to base. The wing is destroyed.

“There’s no question this is a setback. This will be a big test for our team,” skipper Jimmy Spithill said. “But I’ve seen these guys in a similar situation in the past campaign before we won the America’s Cup. A strong team will bounce back from it. This won’t stop us from winning the America’s Cup.”

Each team competing in the 34th America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup (the America’s Cup Challenger Series) can build two AC72 boats. This was Oracle Team USA’s first. The second is due to be launched early in 2013.

For more information and to see a video of the incident, visit www.americascup.com.

In other America’s Cup news, a man who says he discovered the French team’s 45-foot catamaran Energy adrift and returned it to safe harbor has claimed a $200,000 salvage award.

According to a story in Soundings Trade Only, local musician and liveaboard Todd Tholke spotted the AC45 catamaran on some rocks Sept. 30 near Treasure Island, a few miles from where the boat broke free from its mooring as it awaited its next America’s Cup race. His salvage claim has drawn ire from the sailing community. The French team plans to fight the claim, the magazine reported.

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