America's Cup champ Oracle sailing again after taking damage
By Bernie Wilson ,APSAN DIEGO -- America's Cup champion Team Oracle USA has returned to the water 3 1/2 months after its 72-foot (22-meter) catamaran was heavily damaged in a spectacular capsize on San Francisco Bay.
February 6, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Skipper Jimmy Spithill says it was a “fantastic” day in about 10-12 knots of wind Monday.
“I tell you what, mate, I've been looking forward to this day for a long time,” the Australian said by phone from Oracle's base in San Francisco. “For the boat to perform like it did lifts a weight off the shoulders, to be honest. It's good to be back on the horse again.”
Oracle sailed for about three hours with a full crew of sailors plus some engineers. Spithill said sea trials will continue for a few days.
“It really was one of the best days we've had in a long time,” said Spithill, an Australian who skippered Oracle to a two-race sweep of Alinghi of Switzerland three years ago off Valencia, Spain, to bring the oldest trophy in international sports to San Francisco. “Essentially we launched a new boat. We made a lot of modifications, so we were all a bit anxious because you don't know how long it takes to get a boat like this up to speed. You can tell it's an improvement, no doubt about it.
“I'm confident we've got a much better boat, a much better product,” he said.
The boat capsized on Oct. 16, tumbling stern over bow. It was caught in a strong ebb tide and swept more than four miles past the Golden Gate Bridge. The high-tech, 131-foot (40-meter) wing sail was destroyed.
No sailors were injured.
Oracle had to wait for a new wing sail to arrive by ship from New Zealand before it could sail again.
Spithill said there was some apprehension about taking the big, powerful boat back onto the water, “but at the end of the day there were a lot of smiles at the base.”
Spithill and syndicate CEO Russell Coutts, a four-time America's Cup winner, don't think the capsize will be a big setback.
“We have to be careful to not do too much,” Spithill said. “It's not who sails the most, it's who gets it right, with quality and efficiency. People remember who holds the trophy, not who sailed the most days.”