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Monday, May 13, 2013

America's Cup: Sailor Refers to Boats as "Godforsaken Deathtraps"

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2013 at 12:45 PM

What comes next?
  • What comes next?

The off-the-water element of the America's Cup has been the antithesis of smooth sailing. Mayor Gavin Newsom and the "city family" pushed a series of fiscally disastrous deals with Larry Ellison -- only for the yachting billionaire to pull the plug on the cusp of all-but-certain approval by the Board of Supervisors, forcing a scaled-down arrangement.

The 17 or so racing syndicates organizers dazzled city officials with have been whittled down to four. And just how much money the city is going to bleed into the event and how much the private fund-raisers "endeavored" to raise remain contentious issues.

The one thing everybody on both sides of the issue could agree on was that the race itself -- the end result of all this contentious bickering -- would be a marvel. Space age boats, world-class crews, the backdrop of San Francisco Bay: Instant classic.

Or so we'd thought. The death of British Gold Medalist Andrew Simpson last week when the Team Artemis boat broke up in relatively routine conditions has thrown even that into doubt. Doubt, in fact, may not be strong enough a word. A crew member on one of the America's Cup boats had this to say to the New Zealand Herald:

"I hope like hell that whoever survives this thing and wins it changes

the boat class to anything safer than these God-forsaken death traps."

See Also: Sailor's Death in Boat Breakup Forces Painful Questions

As America's Cup officials ponder how to proceed in the wake of the fatal wreck, the unnamed sailors quoted in Andrew Alderson's piece make it very clear what they'd prefer:

 "I hope after all of this, the only place people see these yachts are in museums and pictures."

While a determination of what led to the boat's demise continues, it has been reported that the vessel had a problematic streak of cracking and breaking, and had been in and out of the repair shed.

As SF Weekly noted last week, Artemis, unlike some of the other syndicates, actually has a spare boat to fall back on. Whether it will use it is undetermined; the team has not yet returned messages asking what it plans to do in the wake of Simpson's death.

A meeting between America's Cup organizers and the four competing teams is scheduled for tomorrow. It remains to be seen what steps will be taken moving forward. The underlying promise of a spectacular event may yet come to pass. Or, like the doomed AC72 catamaran, the entire enterprise may yet crumple in upon itself. And sink.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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