American Magic will miss next week’s Prada Cup round robin action so they can focus on fixing their boat in time for the America's Cup challenger event’s semi-finals.
American Magic skipper and executive director Terry Hutchinson spoke to media today after his team’s AC75 Patriot capsized in dramatic fashion yesterday, resulting in serious damage to the boat including a large hole in the hull.
Hutchinson was on board the boat when it hit the water at approximately 80km/h and said it was "pretty hairball".
“I was trying to eject myself out of my spot and we ended up with knives out, cutting ourselves out and making sure that the first priority was the crew was out.
“Fortunately, we were all out within a minute – under the mainsail, it’s unnerving to say the least.”
Hutchinson was asked how his helmsman, New Zealander Dean Barker was feeling after the capsize given he was “at the wheel” when it happened but he had nothing but words of encouragement.
“We win as a team, we lose as a team,” he said.
“I’ve encouraged him since we started this programme to be Dean Barker. Don’t be anything different – we want the person who has all the intensity he has but also has a certain level of demeanour about him which makes him the perfect person to sail this boat.
“I’ll always encourage him to not take his foot of the pedal.”
Hutchinson thanked the other crews as well as the New Zealand police, Fire and Emergency NZ and others who responded to the situation straight away yesterday and helped stop Patriot from sinking.
With the boat safely back on land, American Magic is now repairing the boat with a focus on being back on the water in time for the semi-finals which kick off on January 29.
As a result, Hutchinson confirmed the Americans would not race next weekend in the third and fourth round robins meaning they will enter the knockout stage winless after losing their first four races over the weekend.
“If I insisted we raced next weekend, I’d have to manage a mutiny,” Hutchinson said.
“In all seriousness, it’ll be a big effort to get the boat to go sailing for the semi-finals and we have a realistic timetable.”
Hutchinson joked the boat may not be as beautiful when it returns to the water but they aim to keep it as fast as it was yesterday before the crash.
“We have great support from the Auckland maritime and boat-building community to help us and we’ve had great support from the teams. Everyone has offered up their services to get Patriot back on the water.
“At the end of the day, you couldn’t come across more generous teams in the world.”
Hutchinson said some early options they were looking at to fix the hole included cutting parts from their first boat or getting resources from local boat-builders.