America's Cup expected to go on after fatal wreck

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Associated Press

Posted on May 11, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Updated Saturday, May 11 at 3:05 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The head of the America's Cup planning effort said Saturday he expects sailing's most prestigious event to go forward after the death of a sailor on a training run in the San Francisco Bay.

In an interview Saturday morning, Stephen Barclay said he would await the results of an internal examination of Thursday's accident before making the formal decision. Barclay also said a decision in whether to make safety changes to the boats or the course will be made after the results are released.

Reggata director Iain Murray is heading the probe.

Olympic gold medal winner Andrew "Bart" Simpson, 36, was killed when he was trapped under the wreckage of the Artemis Racing sailboat that capsized during a training run. Barclay said investigators are expected to announce a probable cause of the wreck early next week.

"There's a lot of speculation of what happened," Barclay said. "We want to end the speculation."

Murray said at a press conference that the 72-foot catamaran was attempting to change direction and turn downwind when it capsized. Though difficult, the maneuver was normal, he said.

"The boat nose-dived, and all that we know from that point in that maneuver is that the boat ended up upside down, capsized, broken into many pieces," Murray said.

One hull snapped. Investigators will have to determine whether a structural problem caused the yacht to flip, or if the capsize broke the boat. Last fall, Artemis said the front beam of the catamaran was damaged during structural tests, delaying the boat's christening.

A structural engineer has been included in the investigation, Barclay said. Barclay said that organizers are planning to meet with the America's Cup teams Tuesday morning to discuss the probe. Oracle Racing, the only team now capable of practicing, has agreed not to sail until at least Monday.

Oracle Racing won the last America's Cup in 2010 in Spain, and its owner, billionaire Larry Ellison, picked the San Francisco Bay to defend the cup. Three teams have signed up to challenge and are scheduled to begin racing one another in July to determine who will take on Oracle. The finals against Oracle begin in August.

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