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Capsizng part of the game now, says Spithill

Over she goes: Oracle’s AC Class boat capsizes, but there were no injuries to the crew and the yacht, 17, suffered only “minimal damage” (Photograph by Oracle Team USA)

Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, shrugged off his team capsizing at the weekend as another “learning experience”.

Oracle’s America’s Cup Class catamaran wiped out during a training run in the Great Sound on Saturday.

There were no injuries to the crew while Oracle’s AC50 suffered “minimal damage” in the mishap.

“Good lessons learnt,” Spithill said. “Shame to go over, but it’s part of the game now.”

The mishap occurred off the shores of Lefroy House while the crew were practicing starts.

“We were doing starting practice and bailed out of a bear away and unfortunately went over,” Spithill, the youngest skipper to win the “Auld Mug”, said.

“When we started to go and I knew we couldn’t recover; I just said ‘hold on boys, we’re going over’.

“It was a really soft landing. The big sail just captures the air between the sail and the water like a pillow.”

This was the first full wipeout for an AC50.

After the catamaran, 17, was righted, she was towed back to Oracle’s base in Dockyard and hauled out of the water.

There was no apparent damage to the hulls, rudders or daggerboards. However, the boat’s hard-wing mainsail did not go unscathed.

“The top of the wing has some flap damage,” Spithill added. “The hull that was in the water had saltwater in it, so some of the electrical systems may need to be replaced. But our legendary shore team will have us back racing Monday.”

Oracle issued a statement on Saturday’s mishap.

It read: “We flipped over our new America’s Cup Class boat. All the guys are good. We went straight into our righting procedure, pulled the boat up, and brought it back to the dock.

“Now, we have to go through the process of checking the boat out. The top of the wing has some flap damage, but we have the team to get us back out on the water and we’ll be back out to finish off this race period with the rest of the teams.

“It is frustrating but the fact is, this is a real possibility in these boats. We have to go back through and figure out what led to it.

“But that’s all part of the learning process. It’s usually from these sorts of incidents where you learn the most.”

Earlier in the week the American defender barely avoided a violent high-speed crash.

A YouTube video of the incident has since gone viral. It shows the windward hull going airborne and the leeward hull digging into the water and the hard-wing sail quickly being inverted to relieve pressure.

Despite Saturday’s accident, Oracle’s boat is expected to be back on the water for today’s start of a three-day practice racing period.

The defender stood out among the crowd during the previous practice racing period after compiling an overall 9-2 record.

The original rules prohibited practice match racing in the AC Class 50 footers.

However, the majority of the teams voted in favour of changing the rules.

Emirates Team New Zealand, who are due to arrive in Bermuda this week, were the only team that opposed the latest amendment to the rules.

For America’s Cup news or updates, Talbot Wilson can be reached at 595-5881 or 278-0143