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America's Cup To Go Forward After Sailor's Death; Calls For Reevaluation Of Rules Grow
Published May 13, 2013
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TOO FAST FOR THEIR OWN GOOD? CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Rybaltowski noted Thursday's accident "was not the first in San Francisco Bay during training for the Cup." Oracle Team USA, the defending Cup champions, also "had a boat capsize, amid strong currents last October." With the added speed boats now have due to technological advances and two accidents over the last eight months, safety concerns have "mounted" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/11). Cup organizers said that with Oracle Founder & CEO Larry Ellison as the competition's financier, their decisions to bring the race to S.F. Bay for the first time and to make the boats faster were "made to change the perception that their sport was boring and confusing" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/11). USA TODAY's Douglas Robson wrote the fatal accident is "likely to bring into focus the debate about the speedy and risky multi-hull class of yachts." Catamaran boats can "travel up to 40 knots (46 mph) and sailors typically don helmets and other protective gear due to the speed and dangers involved" (USATODAY.com, 5/10). In N.Y., Christopher Clarey wrote the question is whether the America's Cup has "gone too far in its high-technology hunt for modern-day relevance and market share" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/11).
CHANGES NEEDED: In S.F., Al Saracevic wrote under the header, "Changes Needed After Cup Tragedy." Race organizers made the changes to the competition in part because they were "trying to figure out how to make this sport more palatable and marketable to the general public." The race historically has "taken place far out to sea, with no viewing public nearby." It was "decided that this America's Cup will be raced close to shore, with grandstands and viewing platforms constructed on Crissy Field" in a bid to "spice up the proceedings." The boats will "have TV cameras on them," and the course will "involve a series of figure-8 maneuvers and straightaways along a relatively narrow strip of water just off shore." That means the boats will be "reaching high speeds quickly, only to slam on their virtual brakes before making hairpin turns." The promise was this setup "would make for exciting racing, better television and the specter of danger." But the "reality has been much more troubling." Is it time for Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing, the two teams who decided on the catamaran design, to "get back together and reach a more reasonable solution in terms of boat design and course design?" Saracevic: "The answer in this corner is a resounding yes" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/11).