World champion sailor Phil Robertson has offered a rare insight into the intense measures taken to prepare for a possible capsize like the one suffered by American Magic on Sunday.
Heading for their first victory of the Prada Cup on Sunday, American Magic's Patriot rounded the penultimate gate before going airborne, crashing down and capsizing. The boat took on water and was at risk of sinking before being saved and slowly towed back to base.
American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson called the experience "unnerving", saying: "I was trying to eject out of my spot and we ended up with knives out, cutting ourselves out and making sure the first priority was getting the crew out."
Speaking on NZME's America's Cup video show Beyond the Cup, Robertson – who is the helmsman of Spain's SailGP team and a two-time winner of the match racing world championship – said he's been involved in several capsizes during his career and revealed how sailors prepare for such an event.
"I've definitely done a few and that's I guess the nature of the sport now. It's getting faster, it's getting less stable. We've gotten rid of keels so the boats are going to tip over and they're going to do it at speed as well.
"One thing that's very real now is the safety factor of it. Everyone's wearing impact vests now [because] it's a high-speed sport ... we all carry knives. With SailGP racing we carry two knives and oxygen which lasts between a minute and three minutes, depending how composed you can get yourself if you are trapped under water."
Robertson also outlined the training involved to prepare sailors for what could be a life or death situation.
"One training exercise we go through is getting your heartrate really high – burpees on the dock into some shuttle runs and [more] burpees – and at any moment one of the divers will just push you in and another one will hold you underwater while they sort of tug on your harness and try to stitch you up a bit.
"You've got to be able to just compose yourself with your heartrate through the roof and lack of oxygen in your body and make sure you can get your oxygen off you, get it in your mouth, blow all the water out of it and get to your knife as well and unclip yourself and get yourself free."
Watch the full interview on NZME's America's Cup video show Beyond the Cup above.
Heading into the Cup racing?
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