sail-world.com -- America's Cup: Second AC72 capsize - San Francisco Police investigate
America's Cup: Second AC72 capsize - San Francisco Police investigate
Sat, 11 May 2013
The America's Cup Challenger of Record, Artemis Racing have capsized their AC72 in San Francisco.
Sail-World is providing rolling coverage of the event and its consequences. For the latest update go to the bottom of the story.
Our coverage starts with the incident's beginning just before 1.00pm local time in winds said to be 18-20kts.
Video shown on a local TV Channel shows the boat completely upside down, and with the wingsail smashed, in a similar outcome to that which occurred on the October 6, 2012 incident with Oracle Team USA.
Artemis Racing have confirmed that the crew member killed was Andrew 'Bart' Simpson (36) a double Olympic Medalist on board the AC72.
The injured crew man is believed to be Craig Monk (NZL) with injured knuckles, which is not believed to be serious.
There has been no confirmation of the cause of the capsize, however it is believed to be in similar circumstances to the one which involved Oracle Team USA on October 6, 2012. No-one was badly injured in that incident, however it did prompt a considerable exchange of information between the teams on safety issues, including the use of underwater breather systems to allow the crew to breathe for a time underwater, if trapped.
Conditions in the area were reported to be believed to moderate winds (18-20kts) , although with plenty of whitecaps, and the incident occurred during a bearaway, and the boat pitchpoled/capsized/broke up.
Winds had increased in the hour before the incident, prompting Oracle Team USA which had been training with Artemis Racing, to head home. Artemis was believed to be doing the same when the incident occurred.
A report in Wired.com said:
Preliminary reports indicate Artemis’s boat didn’t capsize because the sailors were pushing too hard or made a mistake, as was the case with Team Oracle. The problem was with the boat itself, either faulty engineering or faulty construction. The boat simply broke apart under sail, folded, then flipped. The Artemis boat has had a history of cracking and problems with the carbon fiber used in the twin 'beams' — the two girders that lash the two narrow hulls together. The boat had been in and out of the shed numerous times in an attempt to correct those problems. Today, however, the forward beam — the girder in front of the sail — gave way during a practice run. The two hulls, no longer connected, began sailing in slightly different directions. This caused one hull to snap just forward of the aft beam, and the mast, held up by high-tension rigging connected to the front of the hulls, simply fell over. The boat began to cartwheel, ultimately trapping Simpson underneath and drowning him.
The Oracle crash last October happened in much worse conditions, and in much rougher seas. The team was risking a turn in a twenty-five knot wind, with an ebb tide that was running at six knots.
There has been no comment from Artemis Racing on the impact to their program, which is expected to continue. It is the second disaster to hit the team, having shattered a wingsail in Valencia, prior to going to travelling to San Francisco. The team has a second AC72 in San Francisco, due to be launched at the end of May.
In a media conference which lasted just 80 seconds, CEO Paul Cayard said:
'We obviously had a tragic day on the Bay, today.
'Our thoughts and prayers are with Andrew Simpson's family, his wife and kids, and also with the rest of our team mates.
'This is a shocking experience to go through, and we have a lot to deal with in the next few days in terms of assuring everybody's well being.'
'The boat itself is under control, but it is certainly not the first of our concerns, we're focussed on the people.'
'That is what we are working with and on, and we will give you more information when we are able to.'
It was made clear before the Media Conference that no questions would be taken or answered.
US Coastguard to lead inquiry into Artemis incident
Writing in UK newspaper, The Independent, top international yachting correspondent, Styart Alexander reports that a formal inquiry will be held into the Artemis capsize incident. He writes:
A major investigation into the cause of the catastrophic capsize which led to the death in San Francisco of British Olympian and America's Cup sailor Andrew 'Bart' Simpson will be led by the US Coastguard.
Other city and state bodies, including those concerned with the port, safety, and sport, will be joined by members of Simpson's Swedish-based Artemis team and experts brought in by the America's Cup defender and organiser, Oracle Racing USA, which is owned by computer software billionaire Larry Ellison.
A main focus will be on whether there were specific circumstances which led to the disaster or was this was an accident waiting to happen? This is the second of the new breed of super-powerful 72-foot catamarans to crash in training. Some see them as death traps.
San Francisco Police Department to investigate along with ACEA inquiry
Regatta Director Iain Murray will lead a review into the events surrounding the capsize of Artemis Racing’s first AC72 and the subsequent tragic death of crewman Andrew Simpson.
During training on San Francisco Bay yesterday, Artemis Racing capsized in winds between 18 and 20 knots. The boat broke apart and Simpson, 36, became trapped.
Support vessels on site rushed to recover the crew from the water and it quickly became apparent that Simpson was missing. After he was retrieved, CPR was administered by trained professionals, both afloat and at the dock, for more than 20 minutes. Approximately 30 minutes after the incident, he was pronounced dead.
'It was less than 24 hours ago when this accident happened and the pain is still very acute for everyone involved. Our condolences go out to Andrew's family and friends, and the members of Artemis Racing,' said Stephen Barclay, chief executive of America’s Cup Event Authority, at a press briefing this morning.
'It’s too early to speculate about the causes of the accident. Iain will conduct the review and will liaise with the San Francisco Police Department and the United States Coast Guard and any other third-party experts as necessary,' Barclay said.
Murray is a veteran ocean racer and America’s Cup sailor, having been part of four America’s Cup campaigns. His knowledge of the sport is thorough and he declined to speculate on the causes, or prejudge the results of the review.
'All we know is that the boat ended up capsized, the hulls upside down, broken in half,' said Murray. 'The split seconds from when the boat was sailing upwind to the pictures that we’ve all seen (of the boat turned upside down and broken apart), there’s a gap in there and that’s what we need to fill in and find out what happened.'
Artemis Racing chase boats were assisted in the recovery effort by members of ORACLE TEAM USA, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge 2013, all of whom were on site observing the training session.
'This is a tragic reminder of the challenges faced by sailors on the water, whether they’re commercial sailors or recreational or professional sailors,' said Captain Matt Bliven of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco, which will liaise with Murray on the review.
'It also underlines the importance of adequate training and proper gear to minimize the impact when something goes wrong. That’s something we’ve consistently seen from the America’s Cup organization and the participating teams – their level of preparation and training to avert these types of mishaps,' Bliven said.
No timetable has been placed on completing the review. The San Francisco Police Department is also conducting its own review as normal procedure when there is loss of life.
'Iain’s going to conduct his review and it’ll be thorough,' said Barclay. 'I have every expectation that we will host a spectacular event here in the summer, but I’m not going to prejudge it. Iain will conduct his review and we will see the outcome and recommendations of that.'