May 27, 2013

America's Cup sailors are back on SF Bay after fatal accident

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

The other three teams are backed almost entirely by a single wealthy funder: Ellison pays for Oracle Racing, Swedish oil magnate Torbjörn Törnqvist backs Artemis Racing and Prada owner Patrizio Bertelli funds the Luna Rossa Challenge.

One of Artemis' two boats capsized and broke into pieces, trapping Simpson under wreckage under water for more than 10 minutes. Artemis chief executive Paul Cayard said his team still plans to compete for the cup, but only if conditions are deemed safe. Artemis has not sailed since the accident while the other three teams returned to practice this week after observing a brief moratorium on sailing after Simpson's death.

On Friday morning, the winds were light and stubbornly refusing to pick up, fluttering between 8 and 12 knots. The recreational sail boats out on the bay not using their motors were bobbing with the current in the sunshine. The America's Cup catamarans, on the other hand, were each reaching speeds of 30 knots as they whizzed up and down San Francisco's waterfront with the flotilla of motor boats opening their throttles wide to keep up.

Though this was only New Zealand's second run on San Francisco Bay, they've completed more than four dozen practice runs at home. They've mastered "foiling," the technique of lifting the 7-ton boat's hulls out of the water so it can skim along the waves on four small fins known as "foils." Foiling reduces the drag on the boat and increasing speed dramatically.

On Friday, New Zealand's black-clad rigger was being hoisted in the air to affix the catamaran's front sail when Ellison's 2003 America's Cup entry came into sight.

Called USA 76, the single-hulled boat with the mainsail and jib setup of a traditional sloop now serves as tour boat and the grinning guests aboard eagerly waived and yelled their hellos to the kiwis.

Someone asked Team New Zealand's David Thomson the difference between the 2003 boats and the entries of today.

"That's a dog," said Thomson, gesturing toward the USA 76. He then turned and pointed at New Zealand's sleek catamaran with the rigger back on deck, the jib sail in place and the boat picking up as it glided toward the Golden Gate Bridge. "And that's a cat."

 

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