America's Cup race management have reviewed its safety procedures following yesterday's man overboard incident involving Artemis skipper Nathan Outteridge.
The Australian helmsman slid his way off the side of the Swedish-flagged boat as the teams neared the top mark for the final time in the tense duel with Emirates Team New Zealand on the opening day of the Louis Vuitton challenger final.
Peter Burling, at the helm of the New Zealand boat, was unaware of the drama that was playing out him, and came disturbingly close to collecting his rival as he set off on the downwind leg.
Outteridge said he feared for his safety while he flayed about in the water waiting to be collecting by one of his team's chase boats.
"I was a bit nervous Pete was going to run me over because they went around the other mark and he was aiming straight for me. Eventually we made eye contact and he missed me by about a boat width," he said.
America's Cup regatta director Iain Murray today admitted the incident was mishandled by race officials. He said the communication had been poor and all boats on the course should have been informed there was a crew member in the water.
"We didn't declare there was a man in the water on channel five [the race communication channel], which we will do in the future," said Murray.
"It was potentially a difficult situation there yesterday and luckily Nathan was safe. I'm not sure that New Zealand knew where Nathan was.
"Moving forward, as soon as we know of these incidents we need to declare it on the race channel, so all boats will hear the call."
Murray said the umpire boat did not see Outteridge fall off the Artemis boat, and there was a lot of confusion around why they slowed so dramatically as they approached the top mark. The race committee were not made aware of the incident until the Artemis chase boat radioed to seek permission to let their second support craft on the race course to scoop up Outteridge.
"By the time we knew there was a man overboard, New Zealand had gone past anyway."
Chief umpire Richard Slater said the reason the umpire boat did not catch Outteridge's slide was due to their own safety procedures. When following the yachts on the course, the umpire boat deliberately sits on the hip of the hull that does not have the crew on it, for the very reason that if a sailor is lost overboard, they are not in danger of being collected by the chase boat.
That explanation will be of cold comfort to Artemis and Team NZ, however. The Kiwi boat only altered its course as they thought they thought Outteridge's helmet was a buoy.
Murray said in the first instance it is the responsibility of each of the team's nominated chase boat provide support if the yacht or crew run into trouble on the course.
"The teams each have boats shadowing their race yachts specifically to do as much as they can to assist in case of an emergency," he said.
"They trail the race boats as close as practicably possible to be the first assist to any incident. It's their responsibility to come to me as to whether they require any assistance - medic boats, whatever is needed."
While Outteridge's spectacular slide was the first time there has been a man overboard scenario during America's Cup racing, all the teams experienced similar incidents during training in the lead-up to the Bermuda regatta.