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America's Cup for Idiots: The Year in Fail
Ben Christopher | Photo: Stephanie Billarant/Energy Team; Guilain Grenier/Oracle Team USA; Noah Berger/AP | July 1, 2013
Months of practice runs distilled to a single word: pitchpole.
September 30, 2012
THE EVENT: Energy Team France’s World Series AC45 mysteriously breaks from its moorings sometime before 3:30 a.m. and drifts from Piers 30–32 toward Treasure Island.
THE UPSHOT: Don’t they teach the cleat hitch at sailing school? Fortunately, physical damage to the boat is minimal, but the French get an unwelcome lesson in maritime law when Todd Tholke, who spotted and secured the wayward catamaran, demands a salvage reward “in excess of $200,000.” The case has since been settled.
October 16, 2012
THE EVENT: Oracle Team’s state-of-the-art AC72 takes a chop on the nose and face-plants into the bay. Swept out the Golden Gate in one of the strongest tidal shifts of the year, the capsized cat drifts for 10 hours before it can be towed back to dock—its snapped-off mast left floating in the pacific.
THE UPSHOT: The most expensive fender bender in sailing history—millions of dollars in damage, and, more important to Ellison and his team, nearly four months in lost practice time.
May 9, 2013
THE EVENT: Artemis racing pitch-poles while practicing in “the slot”— the turbulent band of water between the Berkeley marina and the Golden Gate Bridge. Crewman Andrew “Bart” Simpson is trapped beneath the capsized boat and drowns.
THE UPSHOT:This really is starting to look like Formula One—in all the wrong ways. New safety guidelines are issued, but speculation swirls over whether the crash was the result of shoddy sailing, a poorly constructed boat, or a fundamental design flaw in the AC72.
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