Yachting: Waddell tells of drama on water

By Dana Johannsen

Oracle show off their skills B14-15in San Francisco Grinder relieved to 'see the boat sailing away in one piece' after dramatic fall overboard.

Tossed overboard like a ragdoll as the bows of Team New Zealand's AC72 catamaran plunged into the water, Rob Waddell's first thought when he surfaced was what shape would the boat be in.

The footage of the former Olympic rower being washed overboard with fellow grinder Chris Ward has been replayed ad nauseam around the America's Cup village since the incident occurred on day one of the Louis Vuitton finals.

The pair were swept over the side of the boat as tonnes of water flooded over the bows when Team NZ's high-powered catamaran nosedived while performing a bear-away at the top mark. They recovered from the scare to sail short-handed around the racecourse and collect the first point of the finals against Italian team Luna Rossa.

Suffering only minor bumps and bruises from the fall, Waddell was yesterday back on NZL05 on day two of the finals series, which proved another frustrating day for Team NZ.

The Kiwi boat was forced to retire from the second race after suffering hydraulic failure mid-way through the race, handing Luna Rossa their first win over Team NZ.

The hydraulic problem was caused by a malfunctioning battery pack and not related to Sunday's scare.

Before the team took to the water again, Waddell gave a light-hearted account of his impromptu swim in San Francisco Bay.

"Probably what surprised me was how quickly it all happened," he said.

"Just the G-force when we hit the water was so strong that next thing I knew I was over the boat not knowing which way was up. Luckily I popped up and I was pretty relieved to look around and see the boat sailing away in one piece."

Waddell joked he was a little bit embarrassed to have been flung overboard when some of his teammates had managed to keep grinding.

Team New Zealand were yesterday playing down the incident.

"It probably looked more dramatic on TV than what it actually was. It happens all the time in the Southern Ocean," said Team NZ boss Grant Dalton, a veteran of seven Round the World ocean racing campaigns.

After being subjected to enormous loads when the bows were submerged, the boat was given a thorough going-over off the water.

The AC72 has a number of load sensors on various parts of the boat, but it was later revealed none of those sensors "red-lined" in the nose-dive.

Team NZ designer Nick Holroyd said yesterday's data showed up some heightened loads, but nothing he would put in the realm of "scary".

- NZ Herald

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