Emirates Team NZ Nosedives

Emirates Team New Zealand went bow down around the windward mark in the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup final, throwing two crew overboard and causing damage to the AC72.

Emirates Team New Zealand rounded the windward mark to starboard and dug the bows into the water. Two crew, Rob Waddell and Chris Ward went overboard and were recovered by the team's chase boat apparently unharmed. But Aotearoa suffered damage to the fairing on the aft side of the main crossbeam. "Big puff here you guys," said skipper Dean Barker around the mark (click here to view photos of the crash).

An America's Cup press release stated:

The team's AC72 Aotearoa popped up onto its hydrofoils rounding the mark and then a gust of wind hit. The port (left) bow of Aotearoa buried up to the main crossbeam, reducing the boatspeed from 40 knots to 13 and flicking two crewmembers, Rob Waddell and Chris Ward, overboard. The two grinders were recovered unharmed by the team's chase boat, but the rush of tons of water tore the port side fairing off the main crossbeam and left the crew shaken.

“In this sort of racing, the boats are incredibly powerful. You see how quickly the speed rockets up as you make the turn around the top,” said skipper Dean Barker. “We came in there with good pressure. Through the turn we were always going to pick up a decent increase in speed; I’m sure there are a few things we could’ve done better.

“We’re very thankful that all the guys are OK. Everyone’s a little shaken, but that’s yacht racing and this type of sailing is pretty full on,” said Barker.

Grinder Chris McAsey described the experience.

“I’m on the forward pedestal and was holding on for dear life,” McAsey said. “I was the second guy under water, with Jeremy Lomas in front of me. I was holding on as hard as I could. It all was a blur, everything’s wet and white, you come up, there’s a bit of broken carbon around the place and we’re two guys short. From there on it was just a matter of trying to cover the two guys lost.

“It was an interesting day,” McAsey said. “I spent a lot of time wondering how this day would play out. We were stoked to start the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, and it’s nothing like I expected it would be.”

With the windspeed exceeding the 19.3–knot limit the race committee postponed the day’s second race until tomorrow. It is scheduled to start at 1:10 pm PT. Race 3 is scheduled to follow at 2:10 pm.