SAN FRANCISCO -- Days after a fatal capsize darkened the run-up to this summer's America's Cup, event officials announced Tuesday that the world's most famous sailing race will go on as scheduled.
"The America's Cup remains on track and racing will take place this summer, said Tom Ehman, vice commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which is hosting the event. "There was not even a thought given this morning to do anything but continue this race."
The decision came after what was described as a "collegial" meeting Tuesday morning among the four teams competing in the event, including host Oracle Team USA and Sweden's Artemis, which is mourning the loss of sailor Andrew "Bart'' Simpson, who drowned in Thursday's capsize on the bay.
"We have every reason to believe all four teams will be continuing,"Ehman said.
An investigation is underway to determine why the Artemis boat capsized, broke into pieces and killed a beloved teammate. In the meantime, the Swedish team had already been building a second boat for months. That boat is scheduled to set sail in early June, barring any changes of heart from the team.
An expert review panel has been assembled to review not only last week's accident, but the capsize of Oracle's 72-foot catamaran last fall, when the boat ultimately broke apart in pounding waters. No one was injured in that wreck. The America's Cup round robin series begins the week of July 4 with challengers Artemis, Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy's Luna Rossa competing to win the Louis Vuitton Cup. The winner will take on defender Oracle, which won the America's Cup in 2010, in September.
Oracle is expected to put its 72-footer back on the bay for practice on Thursday. Luna Rossa, which just re-assembled its boat in Alameda after training for months with the Kiwis in New Zealand, plans to launch it by the end of the week. The New Zealand boat is expected to begin training on the bay sometime next week.
Artemis' boat nose-dived Thursday as it was turning the boat downwind in a standard "bear-away" maneuver in average winds of about 20 mph on the bay, turning the boat upside down and killing Simpson, a former British Olympian.
Simpson, 36, who won gold and silver medals for Great Britain during the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, was submerged for 10 minutes after Thursday's 1 p.m. capsize with team divers from a nearby chase boat frantically searching for him, officials said.
On Friday, an America's Cup official had left open the possibility that the race could be canceled depending on the outcome of any investigation. Officials on Tuesday declined to say exactly why they were confident in going forward so soon after the capsize, except to say that they knew something "internally" that encouraged them to go forward.
(Source: Google News: MercuryNews.com. View the original story here.)
Photo courtesy of the America's Cup.