If a preview on Monday was any indication, a pledge by organizers of the 2013 America’s Cup race that their San Francisco racecourse will challenge the world’s best sailors could very well come true.
Oracle Racing crewmember Shannon Falcone suffered dislocated rib cartilage when he was thrown from a capsized AC45 catamaran at about 3 p.m. during a demonstration by two of the team’s next-generation America’s Cup boats.
Helmsman Russell Coutts also fell from the boat, crashing through the wind sail, but did not need medical attention, according to a post on the Oracle Racing team’s website.
“It was all in slow motion,” Falcone said in a statement. “I didn’t think it was going to go all the way over.”
The giant catamaran capsized as it was being maneuvered into place for its second media exhibition race of the day, according to Oracle Racing. Both bows of the boat buried in the water, and the catamaran tipped and capsized to starboard.
An Oracle chase boat picked up Falcone and brought him to a San Francisco Fire Department rescue boat, which then took him to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, fire Deputy Chief Pat Gardner said.
Falcone was able to walk to an ambulance waiting at the club that transported him to a hospital for precautionary X-rays.
Gardner said the fire department has been working with the America’s Cup race committee on protection and safety procedures. The department had its rescue teams in place for the first time on Monday.
“Everything worked the way it was supposed to,” he said.
Monday was also the first time Oracle Racing has sailed in its home waters since winning the 33rd America’s Cup in Spain 16 months ago, and it marked the first on-the-water action related to the America’s Cup race since San Francisco was named host city of the event.
Janna Brancolini, Bay City News