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A Close Call in Bermuda

Oracle Team USA has a close call on a high-speed capsize while training onboard their AC45 in Bermuda.

November 8, 2016
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With wind speeds near 25 knots on Tuesday, it was always going to be a challenging day as ORACLE TEAM USA continues its testing program.

The wind was out of the north, meaning a lumpy sea state in the Great Sound as well.

Nearly an hour into the session a strong gust pushed the AC45S catamaran over, over, over… but not quite into a capsize.

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Helmsman Tom Slingsby explains the close call:

“It was blowing 22 to 25 knots. We did a bear away, we were doing 42 to 43 knots. We got stable out of the bear away but then we had a bit of a moment.

“We got hit by a big gust, got a lot of heel, (and stuffed the bow). In that moment when you have a big nosedive, your natural reaction is to ease the sails, but it’s the worst thing you can do.

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“Tom Johnson (wing trimmer) did a great job. He called for the grinders to grind the wing back in and stall the wing. We ended up saving a capsize and seeing what we can and can’t do in the boats.”

Typically, Johnson was modest when approached dockside.

“It wasn’t me,” he laughed. “It was a team effort.”

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Another lesson learned and more data points in our pursuit to design, build and race the fastest America’s Cup boat we can.

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