Oracle Team USA, America's premier sailing team and one that's bankrolled by billionaire Larry Ellison, is the odds-on favorite to win the America's Cup title next September, but the crew hit a little snag Tuesday when their souped-up, super-expensive AC72 boat capsized in San Francisco Bay during a practice run. After that, it took all the crew's efforts, along with an assist from the US Coast Guard, to keep the remains from floating out to sea.
In addition to the video above taken in the immediate aftermath, here's some footage taken (presumably) from the SF shoreline that shows the boat going over on its side. Wired.com has further details:
The boat slammed into the water on its side, destroying the carbon fiber wing sail and scattering very, very expensive bits of carbon fiber over the bay. No one was injured, but the current pulled the boat through the Golden Gate and out to sea even as the team, joined by a crew dispatched from shore, tried to rein in the wreckage.
"It was amazing - we watched it tip right over, and it looked like the top of the wing came right off," one witness told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Then the big ebb tide just took it right out under the bridge, and it was obvious there was nothing they could do."
The team managed to return the boat, or what's left of it, to shore Wednesday morning. The wing was destroyed and the boat, which costs $8-10 million, needs extensive repairs. The rules allow each team to build two AC72 boats; this was the first of the two launched by Oracle. The second hits the water early next year.
"There's no question this is a setback. This will be a big test for our team," said skipper Jimmy Spithill. "But I've seen these guys in a similar situation in the past campaign before we won the America's Cup. A strong team will bounce back from it."
No word yet on Michael Johnson's involvement, if any.