James Boyd Photography / www.thedailysail.com

China Team join capsize club

As a new format is announced for the match racing component of the America's Cup World Series in Plymouth

Tuesday September 13th 2011, Author: Andy Rice/James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

Today the America’s Cup World Series teams prepared for racing in advance of a reformatted Plymouth Match Racing Championship due to commence on Wednesday.

While the majority stayed ashore on a blustery day, Artemis Racing had a successful short training sail in the strong conditions. But China Team wasn’t as fortunate, suffering severe damage to their wing from a full pitchpole.

“Unfortunately the way the boat landed, the wind got under the wing and caused more damage," described China Team crewman, Will Howden,. "The boat then flipped over and over going downwind, from stern to bow, which was pretty exciting. A pretty nasty one but everyone is okay and that's the main thing."

Or as skipper Charlie Ogletree described it: "We stuck both bows in in the bear away and it resulted in one heck of a capsize. I think we flipped so hard that after the wing hit the water the sterns hit the water. So I think we went all the way round."

"We did a really big nosedive," described helmsman Andreas Hagara. "The impact of the rig on the water was so hard that the rig just folded."

Shore crew will be working through the night in an effort to get the team to the start line tomorrow: “Our technical team and ACRM will be working together to repair the boat,” said skipper Charlie Ogletree. “It will be a long night, but we think we'll be up and running tomorrow… Our neighbors – Artemis Racing, Oracle Racing, have all offered help, which is very nice.”

The three teams who had previously capsized in Sunday’s heavy conditions have all reported they’ll be ready to race Wednesday after making minor repairs. Team Korea, one of the teams to capsize, was able to finish the race, and even briefly considered participating in the following speed trials. Skipper Chris Draper says the key to minimizing the damage was being prepared in advance, along with the quick work of their chase boat crew.

“Our support crew did a great job in moving so quickly,” said Draper. “The thing is the wing is in danger of filling up with water and the longer the boat’s on its side the more likely the damage is going to increase. So there’s a double incentive to get the boat upright as quickly as you can - to preserve the boat and finish the race.”

The teams with minor wing damage were also able to take advantage of a new initiative where the organisers have provided a standby ‘pit crew’ to assist teams in repairs. This has helped smaller teams in particular make timely repairs.

At the close of play today, there was the sound of tapping going on beneath the port hull of Green Comm's AC45, where there were distinct signs of delamination midway between the daggerboard case and the aft beam. It is hard to believe this is the result of their double capsize on Sunday.

Wednesday is the first day of the Plymouth Match Racing Championship. However the format has changed for Plymouth. Instead of fleet racing concluding in match racing for the top seeded teams each day, the aggregate of Wednesday to Friday's racing forming the seeding for Saturday's final, so racing on Wednesday and Thursday will solely comprise fleet racing before match racing takes place on Friday and Saturday. The new format will allow all teams (rather than just the top six) to get experience match racing in the AC45s.

“Following feedback from the teams, we’ve made some tweaks to make all of the races meaningful for each of the teams,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray. “Everybody will sail in the important seeding fleet races (three per day) on Wednesday and Thursday, and then we’ll have the final match racing on Friday and Saturday. This is a more exciting format for teams and fans alike.”

Importantly, even the ninth place team from the seeding fleet races can advance to the final by winning all of their match races. The winner at the end of the four days of racing is the Plymouth Match Racing Champion.

On Sunday, September 18, all nine race crews will line up for the Plymouth Fleet Racing Championship. This 40-minute fleet race is a winner-takes-all, fight for the title.

The teams collect points from the Match Racing and Fleet Racing Championships at each AC World Series event towards the overall America’s Cup World Series title.

Three AC World Series prizes (Match Racing, Fleet Racing, Combined) will be awarded at the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season in Newport, Rhode Island on 1 July, 2012.

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