A committee established by the organizers of the America’s Cup to review the recent death of a sailor during a training accident took the unusual step last week of recommending teams suspend sailing their catamarans.
Following the first meeting of the America’s Cup Review Committee on Thursday, May 16, in San Francisco, teams were asked to suspend all sailing in AC72 and AC45 catamarans until the middle of this week. The Review Committee was scheduled to begin meeting with the teams on Friday the 17th to discuss safety issues following the death of Artemis Racing crew Andrew Simpson in a training accident May 9 on San Francisco Bay. Simpson was trapped under the Swedish team’s AC72 after the yacht capsized. He was later pronounced dead. Several entities, including the U.S. Coast Guard, are investigating the cause of the accident and Simpson’s death.
The organizers earlier had announced that the regatta would remain on track. For the first time, the Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers and the America’s Cup final regatta are to be sailed in powerful 72-foot catamarans with rigid wing sails. The yachts are capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots. A training accident last October involving America’s Cup defender Oracle Racing’s AC72 did not result in injuries, but destroyed the yacht’s wing sail. The incident caused many to question the safety of the catamarans. The teams have used smaller version, the AC45, for training and a series of regattas leading up the Cup events this summer.
The Louis Vuitton Cup, which will serve to name a challenger to compete against Oracle Racing for the America’s Cup, will be held on San Francisco Bay in July and August. The Cup finals will be sailed in September.
Check back with Yachts International for further updates as they become available.