American Magic capsized in a strong gust of wind while leading around the final mark of RR2 Race 3 against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.
All team members onboard were quickly accounted for by the teams on-the-water safety personnel and declared safe, but the racing yacht PATRIOT was damaged during the incident forcing the team to stabilise the boat and keep it afloat before a long tow back to shore. The boat made it back to shore at 10:45 PM NZDT thanks to a joint effort between the team, event and local authorities, as well as the other three America’s Cup teams who rushed in to help.
Terry Hutchinson, New York Yacht Club American Magic Skipper and Executive Director today provided an update following yesterday’s accident suffered by the U.S. Challenger.
“First and foremost we need to recognise the heroic effort everybody in the Auckland community who came to rescue Patriot from despair. In particular the local authorities, the police, the fire services, the Coast Guard and finally the competitors Emirates Team New Zealand, INEOS TEAM UK and Luna Rossa who were spectacular,” said Hutchinson.
“If you think about our family, our sailing community, it was awesome to see the show of support. We didn’t see this one and we will live to fight another day. So I think from here you have to acknowledge the really huge support of all the competitors and what they did for us, and that without them there, when it happened, I think we would be in a much different scenario today, I had the boat going to the bottom.”
It was a long night for the sailing and the shore teams of American Magic; a night spent entirely on evaluating the full extent of the boat damage and on planning the rebuild programme for the immediate future.
Hutchinson confirmed that after a full examination of the hull and its internal systems, they are confident they will be back sailing soon.
American Magic will default this weekends Robin Robin racing to be ready for the PRADA Cup Semi-Finals on January 29 with the boat preferably on the water days before for testing.
“The beauty of our team is that there is a high level of resolve,” said Hutchinson. “I think we’re going to see over the next eight to ten days the boat to be rebuilt, she may not come out of the shed that is pretty, but she’s going to come out the shed to get back into racing. I would like to go back sailing before the semis, and not straight into it, but the team is committed to it and when you think about what all the teams have had to endure to get here, to deal with some of the things that we’ve had to deal with really over last three years, it would be a bit of a mistake not to give everything that we had to get the boat back out on the race course and in good working order.”
American Magic skipper said that while the hydraulics had only minor damages, major concerns lay with the electronics of the boat.
Thankfully, the syndicate has brought all spare parts from the United States to Auckland, so now a two-week window of hard work begins for American Magic.
“We have a realistic timetable and great support from the Auckland maritime and boat building community to help us. We have a great support from all the teams, everybody has offered up their services to get Patriot back on the water, which again, as competitors here, I’m enjoying the time we argue with each other about things that are in a race and sailboats, and we argue about the things that needs to be done and we all try to get a point across. But at the end of day you can’t come across better sportsmanship and generosity than the teams that we have around us, and it’s the sincerity in the world, they’ve extended their facilities for us to rebuild Patriot and in that regard we are in very strong situation. We are going to the plan to get the boat ready and I think the easiest part of it is probably rebuilding it; the hardest part is getting electronics on the inside of the art up to speed. It’s day 45 and Patriot’s been incredibly reliable but yeah there’s a lot of work that goes into that and if you have concerns or worries, it’s dealing with the gremlins inside the boat.”
A decision about the racing schedule for the final Round Robin is currently under discussion.