'Precarious and calamitous': World reacts to American Magic's capsize

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 Jan 2021, 9:45AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

'Precarious and calamitous': World reacts to American Magic's capsize

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 Jan 2021, 9:45AM

American Magic's America's Cup campaign lies in limbo after the dramatic capsize of their boat Patriot during Prada Cup competition on Sunday.

The American syndicate appeared to be trying to take a sharp turn around the final marker in their race against Luna Rossa on Sunday, travelling at 45 knots, when they were picked up by the wind and all but lifted out of the water.

The boat then crashed back into the water.

Here's how the world's media reacted.

Precarious and calamitous

ESPN's US website described the incident as the result of a risky manoeuvre and related it to a previous dramatic day in Auckland more than 20 years ago.

"American Magic's attempt to jibe in those conditions, a move it might not have been able to practice or perfect, was precarious and the results were calamitous.

"Sunday's incident was not the first time an American team has suffered a dramatic setback during America's Cup racing off Auckland.

"During 1999-2000, the New York Yacht Club-backed yacht Young America cracked open while leading a race in rough weather. Skipper Ed Baird ordered the crew to abandon ship, and all were plucked to safety. The boat also was saved."

A timely reminder

James Toney, writing for yahoo.com, reminded us all of the dangerous reality of America's Cup sailing.

"They finally looked like putting a win on the board when leading heading into the final leg of their race with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, only for a gust to send their bow spectacularly shooting skywards.

"Some of their 11-strong crew, who were quickly all safely accounted for, were sent flying into the water but it was a timely reminder of how dangerous this sailing can be, eight years after British Olympic champion Andrew Simpson died when his boat capsized during America's Cup training in San Francisco."

American Magic team members attempt to recover the boat after a capsize whilst racing Luna Rossa. Photo / Michael CraigAmerican Magic team members attempt to recover the boat after a capsize whilst racing Luna Rossa. Photo / Michael Craig

When the cavalry comes ...

French website Sails and Sailboats praised Team New Zealand crew members for helping with the salvage efforts.

"The American boat was hit by a gust just before passing the last windward gate. This surge creates the most perilous manoeuvres for the big foiling monohulls of the America's Cup, and there, that went badly. Very bad!

"Pumps were put in place, buoys inflated to try to fight the sinking of the black boat, but quite quickly the bow went under water, and there were a few very long minutes where we felt good that the American team were fighting with the energy of desperation to save their boat. And strangely, without great logistical means.

"But as in the best westerns, the cavalry arrived with the return of the sun in the form of the Team New Zealand tenders."

A capsize was inevitable

Sailing website Scuttlebutt said the capsize was bound to happen, given how the boat attempted to round its mark.

"At the top gate for the last time the breeze had gone so far left that the left-hand mark was the only choice. But it meant a very difficult manoeuvre, especially as a squall was sweeping across the course.

"USA made it through the tack, but as they came out the leeward running backstay was not released, preventing the mainsail from being eased. With sail pinned in and the gust now on them, American Magic's bow reared up – a capsize was inevitable."

With hindsight there's no doubt

Sailing World's Mark Jardine joined the chorus of criticism for the decision to attempt such a move in the conditions the boat faced on the day.

"The decision to go for a tack rather than gybing around the other mark was questionable and the on-board commentary had Paul Goodison clearly stating the move was going to be difficult.

"With hindsight there's no doubt the alternative would have been taken, but it's all too easy to say that after the event.

"Every single one of the teams came to help Patriot. They may be fierce competitors, but they are also ultimate sportsmen, and no-one wants to see a team in the kind of situation the American Magic crew were in."

American Magic skipper Dean Barker looks over the boat following the capsize. Photo / Michael Craig

American Magic skipper Dean Barker looks over the boat following the capsize. Photo / Michael Craig

American Magic saved from shipwreck! Patriot risked sinking. Damaged bow

OA Sport Prada Cup wrote: "At that point a sudden gust of wind hit Patriot, causing the stars and stripes boat to wheelie in an impressive manner, which, after some frightening swings, glided into the ocean on its left side!"

"It seems decidedly sinister to recall the prophetic words of skipper Terry Hutchinson in a press conference held in December during the World Series: 'What is the scariest maneuver an A75 can perform? To overturn… '."

'A spectacular accident' and a 'jump to heaven'

Spanish website Milbarcos.com wrote: "The truth is that the New York Yacht Club union was in a difficult situation with three defeats and no victories. Anxiety and a chaotic wind like the one that blew up this Sunday in the Hauraki Gulf are dangerous ingredients when you're at the wheel of an AC75."