Exclusive: American Magic thank Kiwi assistance after capsize, target a 2-week return

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 Jan 2021, 9:04AM
The hole in the hull of American Magic following Sunday's capsize. Photo / Will Trafford
The hole in the hull of American Magic following Sunday's capsize. Photo / Will Trafford

Exclusive: American Magic thank Kiwi assistance after capsize, target a 2-week return

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 Jan 2021, 9:04AM

American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson has admitted he thought his team's AC75, Patriot, was going to sink after capsizing during the Prada Cup on Sunday.

The American yacht led in the final race of the weekend, against Luna Rossa, but was hit by a strong puff of wind when making a manoeuvre around the final gate and was lifted out of the water before slamming back down.

Speaking exclusively to Newstalk ZB Sport's Matt Brown when the team arrived back to their base, Hutchinson said he wasn't sure the yacht would survive the incident.

"I think we all saw the same thing, so there was definitely a lot of concern," Hutchinson said.

"When you start attaching things to the top of the mast, you know that's not a good situation. But we'll assess the situation; obviously the boats are highly complicated on the inside. We'll have a good look at her and figure out where we go from here."

While no one on board was injured in the incident, the vessel sustained a large hole in its hull and began taking on water.

American Magic received support on the ocean from all three other America's Cup syndicates - Team New Zealand, Ineos Team UK and Luna Rossa - as well as emergency services. The group worked for more than two and a-half hours to keep the vessel afloat.

Members of Team New Zealand, as well as members of Ineos Team UK and Luna Rossa, were on hand to held keep Patriot afloat. Photo / Michael Craig. Members of Team New Zealand, as well as members of Ineos Team UK and Luna Rossa, were on hand to held keep Patriot afloat. Photo / Michael Craig.

Ultimately, they managed to stabilise the vessel, but had to continuously run pumps to siphon the water out of it. Because of the location of the hole, the boat was towed backwards to the team base at just 2-3 knots.

And because Sunday's racing was held on Course A - off the coast of Milford, about 17km away from the team bases - they did not get back to base until after 10.30pm, almost five hours after the initial incident. The boat wasn't lifted out of the water until 11.25pm.

Speaking about the rescue efforts of all those involved, Hutchinson was full of praise and thanks.

"I do need to make sure I say thank you to the local authorities - the fire department and the police - and particularly to Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa and Team Ineos for the support they gave us on the water. Team New Zealand in particular helped tow us back to the dock for three and a-half hours.

"In these moments, you get the true sense of what competitors can do for you and how we should all treat each other. They showed a great display of sportsmanship."

Hutchinson was full of praise for Team New Zealand in particular, with members of the team staying with the American Magic crew for the full journey to base, with others taking pizzas out for the long trip back.

Hutchinson said it was too early to know just how big a job it would be to get Patriot back on the water, but it was unlikely they would be ready to go for next weekend's racing.

A big effort was required to keep Patriot afloat. Photo / Michael Craig.

A big effort was required to keep Patriot afloat. Photo / Michael Craig.

Instead, Hutchinson was hopeful American Magic would be able to sail in the semifinal in two weeks' time.

"It all felt pretty normal, but through the manoeuvre the boat loaded up and the communication was losing a little bit of the rudder, and I think we got hit by a really big puff and the boat just rolled over.

"We obviously sustained some damage to the bow of the boat. It's too early to really comment on how long it takes or the extent of it. We'll get a better look at it when we get Patriot in the shed and from there we're going to keep our sights set on the semifinal, get our feet back on the ground.

"Things that don't kill you are only going to make you stronger, and I'm exceptionally confident in the team.

"Until you're dead, you're not. I've always been confident in Patriot and the performances she's shown, and I think we'll have to keep it in perspective: we're here, no one was hurt which is a major bonus, and we go forward from there.

"It's the America's Cup; we have to be prepared to fight for it, and we will. From that perspective, we'll just keep approaching it in the same way we have for the past three years. We have a really solid group of people here, we've pushed each other continually for the past three years from the mule to Defiant to Patriot, and I think there's also a lot of support we can probably get from the outside with local boat builders. There's some great craftsmen here in New Zealand that, if we need to reach out, we'll be sure to call them and help boost the economy a little more."

text by Matt Brown, Christopher Reive