America's Cup champion Oracle Team USA will be sidelined from testing its 72-foot catamaran until early next year because of severe damage to the wing sail sustained in a capsize Tuesday on San Francisco Bay.
Grant Simmer, the syndicate's general manager, said Thursday night that the boat's 131-foot wing sail is in pieces and will have to be rebuilt, which will take three to four months, according to an Associated Press story.
Simmer told AP that the team is due to receive a new wing sail early in the new year. That wing sail, which is being built in Auckland, New Zealand, was to have been used for a second AC72 cat. The platform for the second boat, including the hulls and crossbeams, is being built in San Francisco.
Simmer said the pieces of the wing sail were "too many to count. Even the main element was in four or five pieces," AP reported. He said members of the shore crew went out in a helicopter and two chase boats Wednesday and found pieces 8 miles beyond the Golden Gate Bridge.
Simmer did not know how much it would cost to rebuild the wing sail but said it will be labor-intensive.
Oracle Team USA had tested the boat for only eight days since it was launched in August. Two hours into its first day on the water, one of the daggerboards was damaged.
"The biggest setback is losing the rest of October," Simmer told AP. "When you're sailing in a new class of boat, every day we're sailing, we're learning. So now we have to just get as much value as we can from the eight days we were able to sail."
Also Thursday, Artemis Racing of Sweden said the forward beam of its AC72 catamaran was damaged during structural tests, delaying the boat's christening.
The Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers will be held on San Francisco Bay from July 4 through Sept. 1 next year. The winner takes on Oracle for the America's Cup Sept. 7-22.
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