NYYC American Magic are determined to ensure their America's Cup campaign will continue, despite the disastrous capsizing of AC75 'Patriot' during Sunday's racing on the Hauraki Gulf.
Helped by rival teams and local authorities, its crew worked deep into the night to salvage the vessel, needing over five hours to tow it back to its base at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.
"The response from the local community here was incredible, and you can't give enough thanks to the police, fire and local authorities for their quick response," says skipper Terry Hutchinson.
"The response from the other teams was amazing, too. It was certainly heartwarming to see all the support, and obviously we needed it because this was a crisis situation.
"Huge thanks to Emirates Team New Zealand, to INEOS Team UK, and to Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli for coming out and helping us."
In regards to a return to racing, the resumption of the Prada Cup round-robin on Friday seems out of the question given the extent of the damage, which was still being assessed overnight.
“We have to see what the damage is on the inside of the boat, apart from the hole," says Hutchinson.
"Fortunately we're here at our base now, they're getting the rig out, and we'll assess the damage and go forward.”
Hutchinson has the semi-finals in his sights, which begin the following week on January 29, and is backing his team to find a way to make that a reality.
"Time and time again, American Magic has always responded to the adverse situations that we've been faced with, be it COVID-19 or other things we've come across in the last three years," he adds.
"This one is probably a bit of a larger challenge, but as always, how you get up is more important than how you get knocked down. I'm confident in us. I'm confident in our people."
The drama began for American Magic during the final leg of its race against Luna Rossa, when its boat 'Patriot' was sent airborne by a strong gust of wind, then made a hard re-entry into the water.
That impact tore a hole in the port side of the yacht, which wasn't immediately apparent to the sailors onboard. The vessel then capsized sideways into the water, port side down, which temporarily hid the extent of the damage.
While other boats have capsized during training, including Team New Zealand and American Magic's first boat 'Defiant', the way 'Patriot' reacted set alarm bells ringing for Hutchinson.
"We knew something was wrong straight away," he recalls.
'When we tipped 'Defiant' over, the boat was pretty buoyant and sat pretty high on her side. When we righted 'Defiant', and as we saw with Team New Zealand a few days ago when they righted their boat, the recovery was instantaneous. As soon as you get the breeze underneath the boat, underneath the mainsail, the boat pops back up.
"On 'Patriot', when I was getting out of my cockpit, we were lower in the water. The ‘pop-up’ wasn't happening. So that was kind of the first indication. [Boat Captain] Tyson [Lamond] came through the comms saying ‘I think there's a hole in the boat.’ We spent the next couple of hours securing the platform."
Hutchinson clarifies all safety protocols were followed and that no crew members were injured during the incident.
The crash only adds to the nightmare start to American Magic's campaign, who are winless from four races after beginning the Prada Cup series as favourites.
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