America's Cup: First Test day pushes AC45's to the edge and beyond

25/04/2011 - Auckland (NZL) - 34th America’s Cup - AC45 test event - Day 1 - Oracle 1 capsize and redress

On the first day of the America's Cup Regatta and Media Trials being staged in Auckland, Oracle Racing capsized and Emirates Team New Zealand grabbed a start mark. And that's just two of among dozens of near misses and thrills and spills.

Not a bad way to start the week.

Day 1 of the New Zealand test event showed the promise and potential of the upcoming America's Cup World Series as five AC45s braved gusty, blustery and variable conditions on the waters off Auckland on Tuesday. Peak wind gust for the day was around 3.00pm when a gust of 34kts was recorded at nearby Bean Rock.

ACRM's Race Committee team was able to test several race course configurations as well as the new Umpire system in conditions that ranged from 22-25 knots to a period when the wind dropped below 5 knots, with everything in between.

The strongest conditions came at the beginning and end of the day, and it was during and after the final start sequence of the afternoon when most of the action came.



First, the ACRM AC45 nearly capsized moments before the start, but made a remarkable recovery near the pin end.

Moments later, Emirates Team New Zealand had the misfortune of getting the start mark entangled on their leeward rudder. As the boat slowed, the Kiwis too nearly capsized, before eventually freeing themselves.

All of this foreshadowed the main event - Oracle Racing, skippered by Jimmy Spithill, and fighting hard for position on the downwind leg, buried its bows and rolled into a capsize.

To see Chris Cameron's slideshow of the incidents http://chriscameron.photoshelter.com/gallery-slideshow/G0000fu_LwjJ.eb8/?start=!click_here

'We were pushing really, really hard,' Spithill explained. 'We ended up having a capsize, we just weren't quite set up right for that run. But it was a good experience. I think everyone will go through this... I don't think it will be the last time.'

No one was injured in any of the incidents today and the Oracle Racing boat suffered minor damage to the wing. But Spithill expects to be sailing again on Wednesday.

On the race management side, Regatta Director Iain Murray also declared the day a success.

'I think it's fair to say we tested a lot of things and found some we need to work on further, but at the end of the day we've brought together a bunch of teams as well as a whole lot of new systems and that's what it's all about. Generally our equipment worked and everyone is now getting familiar with it,' Murray said.

'I think the teams learned a lot as well. The teams pushed it about as far as they need to push it today but everyone lives to sail another day and we'll be out there again tomorrow.

'All in all a good day.'

The Regatta Testing phase continues for the rest of the week and then the Media Trials start the following week.