Artemis in new bid for America's Cup glory

Second boat launched two months after crew member's death when catamaran capsized

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 5:48am

The Swedish team vying for the America's Cup launched their second 72-foot catamaran on Monday, 2½ months after their first twin-hulled racing yacht capsized, killing a crew member and grounding the challenge by Artemis Racing.

Team owner Torbjvrn Tvrnqvist, speaking at a private christening ceremony in the San Francisco suburb of Alameda, called the yacht's first sail "the culmination of a heroic effort to put together this beautiful boat".

I don't think anyone fully appreciates the hill Artemis Racing has climbed to get to this point. They've worked tirelessly
Regatta director Iain Murray 

Its 40-metre wing sail displays a tribute blue ribbon to Olympic gold medallist Andrew Simpson. The 36-year-old British father of two young children was trapped underwater after his team's hi-tech catamaran capsized and broke apart on May 9.

"I don't think anyone fully appreciates the hill Artemis Racing has climbed to get to this point," regatta director Iain Murray said. "They've worked tirelessly."

The fatal accident forced Artemis to sit out the first round of competition for the world's oldest sporting trophy.

Artemis' absence has thus far left New Zealand and Italy to compete among themselves for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the right to challenge the United States for the grand prize.

Billionaire Larry Ellison and his team, Oracle Team USA, won the America's Cup in 2010 and the right to choose the windy, and some say hazardous, San Francisco Bay as a venue for the current competition.

The Louis Vuitton Cup winners will earn the right to challenge Oracle in races set to begin on September 7.

Artemis do not expect to be able to race until the semi-finals, which begin on August 6. But a squabble over safety rules could still disqualify the Swedish team or virtually cripple their chances of being serious contenders.

Artemis chief executive Paul Cayard has declined repeated requests for comment. Jennifer McHugh, his spokeswoman, said he was "focused on getting the boat in the water and sailing".

The wing sail of Artemis' new boat is largely transparent so missing crew can be found quickly if the boat capsizes.

Simpson was trapped beneath the catamaran for 10 to 15 minutes before rescuers could locate him and pull him out of the water, the San Francisco Fire Department reported.

A San Francisco police inquiry and a medical examiner's report on the death of the two-time Olympian remain incomplete.

The accident highlighted safety concerns over the hi-tech yachts that lift out of the water on hydrofoils and sail at speeds of up to 80km/h. Simpson had acknowledged worries about the new generation of catamarans.