Photos: Ivor Wilkins/www.americascup.com

AC45 capsizes

Well it had to happen sooner or later

Monday February 21st 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: New Zealand

The inevitable has happened – this afternoon while out her first trial sail with Artemis Racing, the AC45 catamaran capsized, damaging the top of her wingsail.

According to reports the incident occurred close to Rangitoto Island on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, when a gust hit as the AC45 was stopped for the crew to 'make some adjustments to the wing'. While Artemis Racing is taking part in the Extreme Sailing Series in Oman this week with skipper Terry Hutchinson, so helming the AC45 for the team on this occasion was double Tornado bronze medallist Santi Lange (right below, with Troy Tindill).

ACRM boat captain Troy Tindill who was on board commented: “After a good session of training this morning with the Artemis Team, we were stopped when we got a little freak puff of breeze, then the boat went over and laid down on the wing. The chase boat was nearby, so we quickly secured the wing. The main structure of the wing is intact. We got the boat back upright and actually sailed back into the harbour under our own steam. We will be back sailing in couple of days. We will have to get the wing down and assess the damage and look at all the framework, but it’s not that bad.”

Aside from no one being injured in the incident, the team were fortunate that the chase boat was ready and were able to prevent the boat from turning turtle (although it will be interesting to find out how they did this).

Of course the AC45 is a production item and moulds exist for all the frame, so it should be relatively straightforward to replace them and to reskin in the wing in its transparent plastic film.

“The nature of these boats with the solid wing sail is that the wind attaches very quickly to the wing which then powers up very quickly,” explained ACRM CEO Iain Murray. “The wind was just 5-10° off axis and the whole wing powered up very fast and the boat tipped over. When the wing hit the water it took some of the elements off the rig. Everybody is fine. There’s not too much damage…. it probably looks worse than it is. It has been a valuable experience.”

All acknowledged some value from today’s lesson. “We are learning all the time. This is the first capsize and it probably won't be the last,” said Paul Cayard, CEO of Artemis Racing, who was not on board at the time. “One of the lessons learned is in rescuing the boat and maybe we have learned how to do that with less damage next time. It is all part of the learning experience. It is why we built the prototype.”

So the first and certainly not the last time the AC45 flips.

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