Oracle Team USA boat suffers damage in testing

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America's Cup champion Oracle Team USA sustained damage to its newest catamaran just minutes into the first day Tuesday of its two-boat testing program on San Francisco Bay.

The damage to the headstay was enough to force the high-performance boat back to the dock Tuesday morning. The syndicate's older boat went back out on the water for training with skipper Jimmy Spithill at the helm, the San Francisco Gate reported.

"We had a pretty nice afternoon of training," Spithill told the San Francisco Gate in a phone interview. "The boys will be able to fix it tonight and we'll be able to be out there in two boats tomorrow."

Spithill was at the helm of Oracle's newest boat when the damage occurred to a strut on the headstay near where the jib attaches. Spithill said it wasn't worth the risk to continue to sail the 72-foot catamaran, which was launched in late April.

The buildup to the 34th America's Cup was marred by the death of Andrew "Bart" Simpson on May 9 when Artemis Racing's 72-foot catamaran capsized, trapping the British sailor underneath.

In mid-October, Oracle's first boat capsized and was swept under the Golden Gate Bridge. The churning of the waves smashed the 131-foot mainsail, which looks and performs like an airplane wing. The syndicate was sidelined for about four months until a new wing sail arrived from Auckland, New Zealand.

Spithill says two-boat testing helps the syndicate make improvements to the boats and is important because there will be no defender trials.

Oracle will face the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers in the 34th America's Cup, beginning Sept. 7.

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