America’s Cup teams like to talk about how their training regime pushes their AC45 foiling catamarans to the limit, but now SoftBank Team Japan can prove it.
This dramatic video clip captures the moment when the rigid wingsail on SoftBank Team Japan’s AC45F practice boat broke in half:
Skipper and team CEO Dean Barker revealed that there were no injuries caused by the incident, which happened in extremely windy conditions off Bermuda last week.
“We were pushing the boat hard in 20-23 knots of wind on an upwind run with Oracle Team USA and heard a loud bang as the lower flap of the wing broke and blew off the back of the main element,” he added.
The evolution of America's Cup sails has culminated in a rigid wingsail being introduced in 2011, revolutionising the sport and significantly increasing the maximum possible speeds.
With less than eight months to go until the start of the 2017 America’s Cup Qualifiers, Barker described the experience as very useful in the team's research and development process.
“As we learn more about these boats and push them further up the wind range, the loads get increasingly higher,” he explained. “Understanding how hard we can push is a key part of being successful next year.”
Fortunately this incident is unlikely to have a huge bearing on SoftBank Team Japan’s preparations for this month’s America’s Cup World Series Fukuoka, with the team expecting to be able to rig the back-up wingsail and get back on the water by the end of the week.
The first Asian event in the history of the America’s Cup, ACWS Fukuoka kicks off in the Japanese city on November 18.