How China Team is making repairs after crew's capsize in America's Cup World Series practice

They went from launch to a catastrophic cartwheel and major repairs in little over an hour.

I watched China Team’s boat be craned in at Millbay Docks this morning, a delicate operation in rather gusty conditions, only to see them reappear from a practice sail with their wingmast in tatters 90 minutes later.  

They capsized during a bear away. The boat went over to starboard, lay on its side and then, remarkably, the stern of the starboard hull dug in and the boat did a perfect cartwheel from one side to the other, bows up.

The impact as the hull hit the water on port, and the water pressure on the wingmast as it dragged along delaminated a roughly 1m area on the starboard hull and broke frames at the top part of the wing.

During the capsize the lines controlling the two parts of the wing broke and it over-cambered, the team’s technical manager Yann Dabbadie tells me. That also broke some of the carbon and Nomex frames. By the time the boat was righted the lower flap was in tatters.

The good news is that the America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) has a spare boat, so a spare wingmast, which is being loaned to China Team so that they can be back racing again tomorrow. The China Team boatbuilders will be working throughout the night to repair the area of delamination.

As for the wingmast, that too can be repaired. “ACRM carries spares for the back element [the trailing part of the wing] but not the front element. It can all be repaired and it’s pretty easy to do, but you need to laminate a couple of times and we don’t have time to do that and be racing again tomorrow,” comments Yann.

The photos below show the damage as well as the launch before it all went wrong. The wingmasts are placed on by crane, then strops are fitted to the forward beam and the boat is lifted into the water. A fitting attached to the mast keeps the lines from the crane hook to the strops together away from the mast as shown in one of the detail photos.

 China Team 1

Damage to the front part of China Team’s wing

China Team 2

The broken frames at the top part of the mast back in the base

China Team 3

The area of delamination in the starboard hull, with carbon skin removed and Nomex core ready for repair

China Team 4

And a short time earlier… the boat being craned in for the practice sail

China Team 5

Two lines from the crane pass through this eye before attaching to the port and starboard sides of the forward beam

China Team 6

Lowering into the water