Oracle Capsize Sends Crew Through Wingsail

Photo Credit: Gilles Martin-Raget/

We have to say that it really is amazing to watch these boats go. Who knew that sailors could fly?

Four-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts was at the helm of an AC45 that capsized Monday on San Francisco Bay. At the time, Oracle Racing was participating in some practice starts with the America’s Cup Race Management Team. Earlier in the day, media had been on the water to see the ACs 45 sailing on the venue for the 34th America’s Cup. Coutts was bearing off in a pre-start and pitchpoled at 22kts. The AC45 was capsized for about 10 minutes.

Oracle reported: After the media sail the team’s two crews, led by helmsmen James Spithill and Russell Coutts, engaged in exhibition racing run by America’s Cup Principal Race Officer John Craig. He set a course that featured a reaching start to a turning mark around which the crews unfurled the gennakers and turned downwind.

After rounding the leeward mark the two crews sailed up to a windward mark before another blasting run downwind and a final beat to the finish. The race lasted no more than 20 minutes.

The good times were dampened in the second pre-start, when ORACLE Racing Boat No. 5, helmed by Coutts, capsized during the pre-start. In action similar to Friday, both bows buried and the boat went nearly vertical before capsizing to starboard.

“We got caught in the pre-start at the wrong angle and paid the price,” said Coutts, who fell through the lower part of the front element of the wingsail. “The boats are spectacular, hard to sail. They’re gonna test the best sailors in the world. Luckily I had the crash helmet on.”

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