Death of sailor clouds Cup future

Updated: 2013-05-13 07:20

By Agence France-Presse in Los Angeles (China Daily)

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America's Cup officials pressed on Saturday with their probe of the capsizing of a catamaran that killed Briton Andrew Simpson, seeking answers to keep the world sailing's most prestigious event afloat.

Artemis Racing member Simpson, nicknamed "Bart," died when the Swedish team's AC72 overturned while training on San Francisco Bay on Thursday.

The accident has plunged the Cup into uncertainty, fueling concerns over the safety of the 72-foot America's Cup catamarans and prompting Patrizio Bertelli, chief executive of the Prada fashion house and sponsor of Italian challenger Luna Rossa, to say he would consider pulling out his team.

America's Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray, spearheading the review of the incident, said on Saturday that he has scheduled a meeting with all four teams - defending champions Oracle of the United States, Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa, for Tuesday in San Francisco.

"The meeting with the teams is a crucial next step," Murray said.

"We need to establish an open flow of information to ensure this review meets its goals of fact-finding and putting us in a position to recommend changes, if necessary."

The review will include study of all data captured at the time of the incident.

"Once we have the information, the basic facts, all the data, then we will be able to rebuild the entire chain of events and start to assess why this incident resulted in a tragic loss of life," Murray said.

In the meantime, Artemis Racing on Saturday urged the sailing community to refrain from speculation.

"Until this process is complete, any conclusions being made about the events that led to the boat's capsizing and its tragic outcome are pure speculation," Artemis said in a statement posted on its website.

"Out of respect for Bart's memory and his family, we ask that the broader sailing community and others reserve judgment until all the facts are known, and not persist in unnecessary rumor."

But Simpson's death has cast a pall over the event.

Bertelli told Italian magazine Yacht Capital, in comments posted on the website yachtonline on Friday, that his team was taking the weekend to consider its position.

"The way it is now, it's not OK," Bertelli said. "Those responsible must take note. Not everybody has understood that we're now in an extreme America's Cup, whereas it was romantic before."

"We're now like Formula One or rally."

(China Daily 05/13/2013 page23)