The America’s Cup began in May with all four teams and their longboats finally on San Francisco Bay. Before a third of the way through the month, Artemis lost teammate Andrew Simpson in a capsize that broke their first longboat. They understandably retreated to grieve, to heal and repair their boat, even as their second longboat arrived. During the middle of the month the America’s Cup convened a safety committee to investigate how to make the summer competition safer for crews and craft. The Regatta Director, with the concurrence of the competitors, produced 37 recommendations toward this end. By the end of the month the Artemis team went to England to commemorate their teammate, the other three teams resumed honing their skills on AC72s racing on foils, and the first of 30 America’s Cup concerts from May to October was sold out to 9,000 fans at the AC Pavillon on Piers 27 and 29.
After the expiration of the moratorium from practicing on San Francisco Bay, in memory of Artemis’ Simpson, Italy took to the water prematurely, stating that it couldn’t waste more time; the second challenger, New Zealand took to the water as did defender Oracle within ten hours after the midnight deadline. Only Artemis, with its newly arrived longboat, has not resumed practice on the water, while still mourning their loss and determining whether to continue competing in the America’s Cup. Less than a month remains before the Louis Vuitton Cup races begin on July 5 to determine the sole challenger.

On Tuesday, June 4, just before going to press with the entirety of this story, ACEA announced that Artemis Racing has returned to practice on San Francisco Bay after almost a month since the loss of their teammate, Bart Simpson. While they are readying their second AC72, the team took to the bay with Nathan Outteridge at the helm. The team tweeted: “A good day to get back out on San Francisco Bay in our foiling AC45.” We and the competition wish them well and God-speed. Once again we have three challengers practicing to unseat the defender this summer. The contender competition begins on July 5.


The Cup’s new safety recommendations
The Cup Authority convened an international panel of seven experts for the purpose of enhancing the safety of teams and boats during America’s Cup practices and racing on the bay this summer. On May 22, the results were announced, presenting 37 recommendations, which were supported by all teams.
Stephen Barclay, CEO of America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), stated that safety was always the priority and improving it a constant (though perfection is an unattainable quest), and complimented Regatta Director Iain Murray and his America’s Cup AC72 Safety Review Committee for considerably enhancing the safety of the forthcoming international race. The resulting recommendations of the Regatta Director will be incorporated into the revised Marine Event Permit application to the U.S. Coast Guard, which has ultimate authority over whether the event can be held.
Recognizing that sports relying on technology and speed cannot eliminate injury or death, but can continually strive to reduce such peril, Barclay cited a number of sports but took as his model Formula 1 Racing. After losing a driver in a 1994 fatality, that sport convened a similar safety committee to review systems and processes and to modify the rules so as to protect the personal safety of participants while maintaining the acumen of the sport. Thanks to continual improvements, Formula 1 has not had another fatality since then. “Much as crashes still occur in F1 but safety measures have resulted in no loss of driver life, our new safety requirements seek to do the same,” said Barclay.
While releasing his safety recommendations, the Regatta Director reminded all that these proposals were made after the committee interviewed members from all competitors and that these changes represented a consensus of the competitors. It was also stated that no recommendations can cover all possible risks; that the risk of injury or death is part of any risky activity, for which participants assume full responsibility; and that each competitor and all crew members are responsible for their own safety at all times, a risk which they freely and willingly assume by competing.
The recommendations by category to make the 2013 America’s Cup sailing and racing safer for teams, as agreed to by all competitors and by the America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM), are as follows:

1. AC72 Yacht. Each yacht’s structural integrity, daggerboard systems, and rudder elevators must be examined and certified by an independent third party expert as being safe and reliable. Various restraints must be incorporated into the yachts to prevent crew from falling from great heights during sudden catastrophes. The weight of the yachts will be increased; they will be limited to two soft sails, the coverings and fairings of which should be transparent so as to see people on the other side; and neither guest racers nor Cup officials are allowed on the yachts while racing.

2. Personal Equipment. This section requires quick release buoyancy aids—lest a life jacket trap one beneath debris, preventing them from diving below the wreckage; body armor to protect the spine and prevent puncture and impact wounds; an electronic head count system to assure that all crew are located at all times; as well as a crew locator device to locate any submerged crew; an increased but indeterminate volume of air in hands-free gear for each crew member to wear at all times on the boat; improved and brightly colored helmets and specifications; and finally self-lowering equipment for each crewmember, to lower themselves safely from precarious heights. The most curious aspect of this category of recommendations is that they all consist of good intentions which Cup management and competitors must agree upon and then implement. With less than a month before the beginning of the Vuitton Cup challenger races, it seems almost impossible that all will agree, find, and equip each teammate with these necessary safety features in time.

3. Additional Support Equipment. These recommendations for support and rescue can all be implemented immediately. There is no limit to the number of support boats; each team is required to have two rescue boats for each of their AC72s; each rescue boat will have one rescue diver and one rescue swimmer. At least one rescue boat must have a defibrillator on board with a paramedic (or medical personnel) trained to use it; all support boats and rescue boats must carry nets to recover crew from the water; a safety radio channel will be assigned to each team for inter-team safety communications and during all sailing and racing, the AC72 may have one-way communications with their chase boat. And the ACRM vessel must be notified and placed on stand-by for recovery operations whenever an AC72 yacht sails.

4. Race Management. These recommendations also can be implemented immediately. The Vuitton Cup Round Robin elimination dueling races to determine the sole challenger are reduced from 7 to 5; the mark boats will be replaced by soft markers. The ACRM and competitors (especially skippers and rules advisors for each team) will consult to remove all dangerous situations by agreeing on all alternative starting procedures; acceding to Italy’s demands, the wind limits were reduced to 20 knots in July, 21 knots in August, and 23 knots in September, with additional wind limitations depending upon tide and the state of the sea; turning at the first mark will occur approximately 45 seconds after the start of the race; safer buffer zones will be determined by ACRM around the course boundaries and obstructions; similarly ACRM will create a process to inspect and clear the course of debris and other obstructions, assisted by the Army Corps of Engineers. The start of each race will be determined by the conditions of the course and weather predictions; similarly pre-/post-race programs will be contingent upon high winds and powerful tides. The dock-in program for the winners following a race will be eliminated and skippers will be transferred to the Pier 27 show within 45 minutes of the race. Finally, teams will not be fined for not competing but any capsized yacht will automatically be disqualified and the competitor declared the winner, which will free all equipment to be focused on rescuing the capsized crew. The ACRM will develop safety procedures for competitors’ rescue boats, divers, and medical personnel to make the rescue as safe and efficient as possible.

5. Future Sailing: Each competitor must take full and sole responsibility for their own sailing arrangements. This fifth category reminds all that this is indeed an extremely and inherently risky sport, featuring the world’s best sailors on the fastest boats.

Competitors’ concerns
Before these safety recommendations and precautions were released, all challenging teams as they practiced upon their customized AC72s had complained about the hazardous, precarious and unwieldy craft. Max Serena, skipper of Luna Rossa, said it is exciting to race at winds of 18 to 19 knots, whereas above 20 knots these boats become dicey; before their capsize, both Artemis CEO Cayard and skipper Outteridge had publicly commented that on the bay they expected many more dangerous incidents during practice and racing in the America’s Cup with these AC72s.
Before all four teams could meet under the auspices of ACEA, Patrizio Bertelli of Prada and head of Luna Rossa publicly demanded specified changes that must be made if his team is to be included. Since the dozen boats competing in 2012 had already been narrowed down to only three national teams competing to challenge the defender (due to the cost of the competition as well as safety concerns), the Safety Committee was obligated to incorporate what were decorously called “suggestions,” though they represented a consensus of all challengers.
While making a series of demands for personal safety and weather conditions, Bertelli also demanded that “we will not tolerate the bending of the rules using as an excuse the latest fatality, and we will respect the rules of the protocol and the class rule as they have been approved. We are absolutely in favor of discussing with all the other teams to try to find common solutions to the problems we face, but we will not accept any imposition.” Since he had but one boat, optimized for specific conditions, whereas the other three teams each had two, one understood why he objected.
The irony in the Cup rules, set by the Defender, is more apparent when one considers the natural conditions on San Francisco Bay. The most difficult time for sailing here, due to prevailing sailing conditions, is during June, July and August. Oracle set the Vuitton Challengers Cup during July and August (typically during one-third of this period winds are greater than the limit). The Defender does not compete in the Vuitton Cup but can study how the challengers maneuver against each other and nature. During September, when bay winds and currents are ideal, only the surviving competitor will challenge Oracle for the Cup.

Artemis decision forthcoming
Sweden’s Artemis Racing team, which had suffered most recently the loss of teammate Andrew Simpson, still had additional concerns beyond those of the yacht and personal safety. The capsize that cost his life, occurred on their 36th racing day and though their second boat has arrived, they had not launched it prior to June 4. Understandably the team had much to deal with and consider in deciding whether to compete.
On Friday, May 31 the Artemis team was at Sherborne Abbey to honor their beloved mate Andrew "Bart" Simpson, followed at Sherborne Castle by a celebration of his life and care for his family. The Dorset town of Sherborne is but 30 miles from Weymouth and Portland, where last year Andrew won his two Olympic medals in the Star class with his lifelong friend Iain Percy, also his teammate on Artemis. Out of respect for their comrade, no announcement was expected from Artemis until the beginning of June as to whether they were still in the race.

Concerts: Prelude to the races
After the rules were announced, the other three teams took to the water. And on Friday, May 31 the America’s Cup Pavilion sold out the first of a series of more than two dozen summer concerts of indie bands at the pavilion on the Embarcadero at the site of San Francisco’s future cruise terminal, located on Piers 27 and 29. This important entertainment element of the America’s Cup summer of racing, not only stokes people’s mood for the races but will help pay for them. The America’s Cup Concert Series is the cultural component to the summer of racing, similar to the Cultural Olympiad or the SuperBowl HalfTime Show. This Pavilion with its 9,000-seat amphitheater will become the focal point on race days for all to watch the races through Stan Honey’s telewizardry on the JumboTrons, featuring live racing with commentary. The concert schedule can be seen at
In a thoughtful gesture, a portion of ticket proceeds from the first concert, the Imagine Dragons show, will be donated to a charity currently being set up in the name of Andrew "Bart" Simpson, to benefit children’s sailing.

The remaining field
In mid-May it was announced that Germany’s youth team would indeed compete in the Red Bull races during the first week of September. Six teams, including Sweden’s, were preselected. A dozen nations competed for the remaining four spots, which finally went to Germany, Austria, Australia and Portugal.
As the U.S., New Zealand and Italy practiced on the bay, awaiting Artemis’ decision and return to the water, attention turned to the assessing and ranking the competitors, given their experience on the longboats and on San Francisco Bay. For a good introduction to this summer’s racing, see
The first element to be considered is foils. Originally it was supposed that foils were banned. However, just as Artemis had found a loophole that allowed it to prematurely test the wing on another boat, so, New Zealand found a loophole in the AC Protocol, by which it could use foils. While foils are more risky, the advantage is that by skimming on them above the water, the boat is freed from the drag of the water and can travel much faster through air than in the water. However, the propulsion captured by such huge wings while precariously balancing on the small, submerged wings of these foils, makes it easy for the bow to “pitch pole” or capsize.
Additionally as the first team to launch its longboat, New Zealand has the most experience. Director Murray even last year during the races commented that New Zealand had already mastered the tricky maneuver of turning on foils. This is particularly tricky because typically when foiling one must switch from one foil to the other without slowing, as these catamarans pivot on one hull either when tacking in mid-course or when rounding the gate to return. For a long time Artemis resisted using foils considering them first illegal, then of only limited usefulness downwind, but finally adopted them after practicing with Oracle on the bay after they were outdistanced and outclassed by their competitor. This meant that they had to redesign and retrofit their AC72s with foils. During this expensive operation, they practiced with foils by retrofitting their less precarious AC45 from last year.
When the America’s Cup was first proposed to San Francisco, everyone (not merely Ellison in his proposal) assumed that there would be about a dozen teams racing on the bay. And indeed last year there were about a dozen AC45 catamarans racing in the fleet races here. What no one could predict when this was planned half a dozen years ago was the worldwide recession. Many of the teams last year were new and used that period to learn skills for their national teams for future America’s Cup races without any intention in continuing to compete in this year’s much more expensive second round of racing. Other teams considered this challenge too expensive, too complex or too risky to compete in, choosing to participate in a later defense of The Auld Mug.
Next it is necessary to understand that whereas Oracle and Artemis practiced on San Francisco Bay, where the championship will be held this summer, New Zealand and Italy practiced in Auckland. This is because Italy essentially bought its boat from New Zealand, saving itself the design costs. Further, the two teams entered into a technology partnership. By using the same boats, they pooled their information. New Zealand has two boats and Italy but one; yet together they learned three times the amount of information and skill in maneuvering. Of course, New Zealand enhanced its second boat with all it had learned from sharing information on the first one with Italy. And, while they were partners in Auckland, knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses thoroughly, they will be fierce competitors on San Francisco Bay.
From now on all teams can race as often and as much on San Francisco Bay as they desire. And of course all teams are also observing and assessing the sailing of competitors’ boats and the skill of their crews, to find where they might find flaws or seek advantage. Similarly they are analyzing their own behavior and tactics to see how they might improve. For example, for more than a year now, New Zealand has equipped the helmets of each team member with cameras and tracking devices. After any sailing, all of this information is analyzed and assessed to find how they could execute with more precision and efficiency.
Time is becoming as much of an opponent as the wind, currents and competitors. While Italy and New Zealand are becoming familiar with the characteristics of this bay, they have mastered their crafts. On the other hand, whether because of dangers inherent in sailing on this beautiful but challenging bay or because of design, or because of skill or exuberance, both Oracle and Artemis have capsized and wrecked their boats here. Even without the loss of life, this is extremely costly (typically more than $10 million per AC72) to say nothing of the time to repair the boat, which is time lost from practicing on the boat and gaining experience for the crew.
The tally tells the tale. As of the beginning of May (before the Artemis tragedy), New Zealand had acquired 51 days of racing expertise on the AC72; Italy, 46 days; Oracle, 39 days; and Artemis, 36 days. At some point that experience may outweigh any disadvantage from design and possibly even from the weather.

By Ted Olsson
San Francisco