Yachting: Artemis work round the clock to get new boat ready

By Dana Johannsen

The Artemis team hope to have their boat ready for sea trials in two weeks. Photo / AP
The Artemis team hope to have their boat ready for sea trials in two weeks. Photo / AP

Once the dust had settled after May's horrific training accident which claimed the life of their friend and crewmate Andrew Simpson, the Artemis team came together to make some decisions about the future.

They were resolute that their first America's Cup challenge would not end in a twisted heap of carbon fibre on San Francisco Bay.

And so, while their rivals were out for their final tune-ups yesterday before the opening race of the Louis Vuitton challenger series, the sailing and shore crew of Artemis Racing were locked away inside an old navy aircraft hangar that is now their Alameda base, as they race against the clock to get their boat ready to join in the action come August.

The team's chief executive, Paul Cayard, said he had crews working nights, weekends and holidays to finish the new cat. They're so determined to get out on the water again that when journalists arrived for a tour of their 9300sq m facility across the Bay bridge in Alameda, we found skipper Iain Percy busy preparing the surface of a daggerboard.

"It's all hands on deck here," he said.

Yesterday's tour was the first time the team have opened up their base to the media since the fatal accident two months ago, offering a rare glimpse of their recovery operations.

The Swedish team's new boat will carry a simple but poignant tribute to their teammate - a blue ribbon painted on the wing, with the word "Bart" (as Simpson was affectionately known) written inside it. "He'll be riding with us," said Cayard.

The Artemis team hope to have their boat ready for sea trials in two weeks, but Cayard said that at this point they were not working towards any "hard dates". Despite the extraordinary effort they are going to to get a boat on the water Cayard accepts that the chances of his team making it to the startline of the Louis Vuitton semifinals, let alone being competitive, are slim.

But he believes it is important they try - and they are going to eye-watering expense to do so.

Cayard said there was still a chance it could all be for nothing if "Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa get what they want". The veteran of six America's Cup campaigns said that should the international jury uphold the two teams' protests in tomorrow's hearing, it would exclude Artemis from competing as it would leave them without compliant rudders and no time to build new ones.

- NZ Herald

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