Oracle team's capsized yacht brought out of water

October 17, 2012 7:26:34 PM PDT
It's a major setback for the defending America's Cup champions. An $8 million sailboat now in pieces after it capsized on the bay Tuesday afternoon.

What's left of the boat is now sitting at the Oracle Racing team's headquarters at Pier 80 in San Francisco. On Wednesday, you could feel the disappointment from the people who are now figuring out how to repair it. But there was also a sense of relief that all the team members managed to get out unharmed, to come back and pick up all the splintered pieces.

The catamaran was towed to Pier 80 overnight. On Wednesday morning crews took on the tedious process of righting the upside down boat and ultimately getting it out of the water. Divers moved quietly around the scarcely recognizable AC72, Oracle Team USA's massive catamaran.

New video released by Oracle Racing shows what happened in those frightful moments when the 72-foot catamaran flipped over, thrusting its crew members some 60 feet in the air as they held on for dear life.

"I was thinking is the wing gonna break, do I need to get off the boat, do I need to hold on tight and I think all the crew were wondering the same sorts of things," Oracle Team USA Tactician Tom Slingsby said. The wing did break, but the skipper told his team not to jump, "We held on," said Slingsby, "and in hindsight I was really glad we did, if we tried jumping at that height and at that time I think we all would've been injured."

In the end the only casualty was the boat. Though the hulls are mostly intact, the wing that supported the yacht's giant sails was reduced to a shattered pile of carbon fiber, "I'd call it destroyed," said Oracle Team USA Tactician John Kostecki. "I mean, it's definitely in several pieces and a lot of it's gone."

The team spent Wednesday afternoon retrieving the pieces and hoisting the damaged boat back onto dry land.

"The boat actually seems in relatively good shape given what it went through," said Skipper Jimmy Spithill. He's trying to take it in stride. Spithill says he sees the crash as a natural consequence of trying to be the best, "You know at this level you are pushing the boats very hard. Obviously we never wanted to end up like this with a capsize, but it's like race car drivers, every now and then you're gonna get a race car crash because you're pushing."

It's a good learning experience, but also an awfully expensive one. There's no estimate yet on how much it will cost to fix the $8 million boat.

This is a major setback for the team's training schedule. 72-foot catamarans are not easy to come by. The team had one and now they have none. Though, it turns out they were already working on building a second boat. It was supposed to be ready by early spring, but now they say they'll rush to finish it so they can be back in the water while the first boat is getting fixed.

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