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Coach’s Update: USA45 Heads into July

Greetings from Tiburon. The sailing team is staying very busy on a daily basis and keeping our eye on the goal of winning the RBYAC!

Our days are productive and consist of gym work, some other form of team building exercises, and meetings to discuss racing tactics, racing rules, crew work and fundraising. The month of June started out smooth with the team trying to get as much time on the water as possible.

On Thursday, June 20, we encountered a bit of a hiccup, but nothing we don’t intend to learn from. The team was out for a training session on the Extreme 40. We had an excellent day of sailing and training practicing boat handling on a short racecourse. As the day progressed the wind increased to 18-20 knots with a slight ebb current. This combination led to a choppy sea state. Team USA45 Racing was approaching the windward mark preparing to bear away and sail downwind. During the bear away the team buried the leeward bow, which resulted in the X40 rolling.

Our coach boat was there immediately to do a head count and the sailors all practiced their learned safety procedures with precision. The sailors all held on tight and once the boat was stopped they did an immediate head count and injury check. All was good, no one injured. The X40 capsized at the top of the Berkley Circle, which meant she was in about 40 feet of water. Since the mast is 60 feet tall, it broke due to the force of the boat in the waves.

Step two was to get a righting line from the coach boat to the X40. This was done quickly and the righting process started. Because the boat was turtled, we were unable to right it with the coach boat. We called STFYC for assistance and they in turned notified ACRM.

John Craig and his ACRM team arrived in force with four boats for a total of five boats on the scene. ACRM also arrived with mast flotation bags so we could salvage as much gear as possible. During the next few hours, every attempt was made to right the boat and save as much gear as we could. The end result was a tow of the X40 back to KKMI in Sausalito to right it with their crane. The rigging was sorted and loaded onto the coach boat.

Thanks to the ACRM team for all their support and congrats to the sailors for acting in a calm and professional way throughout the entire event. It was unfortunate it happened, but in the end it will make the team stronger. These boats are fast and pushing them to the limit is what it takes to be the best. We now have a clearer picture of where that limit is and this will be valuable knowledge in the RBYAC.

In regards to the X40 repair, the wheels are in motion. It was a relatively major break on the mast, so this means time and money to repair it. One of the boat builders from Oracle has taken the project on in his own shop. His estimation on the repair time is two weeks, with an estimated completion date around July 9. We are also working with the mast builder in Sweden to assist in providing technical info as well as a mast piece to splice in our broken rig.

Photo: The team at the Friday Night BBQ at Corinthian Yacht Club. Credit: Roxanne Fairbairn