Peyron Explains What Happened To Artemis

28 Jun

Finally. After weeks of rumor, speculation and silence, Loick Peyron talks to the New York Times about how Artemis’ AC72 ended up upside down and broken, killing Andrew Simpson.

Peyron was following in a chase boat, so had a pretty good view. It is not the final word, but definitely key testimony from an expert witness. Here’s the key point Peyron makes in the story:

The accident was “a classic capsize situation,” said Loick Peyron, one of the team’s two helmsmen. He confirmed that the yacht capsized, as has been reported, while the Artemis crew was executing a bear-away maneuver: a downwind turn away from the breeze that has been a particular challenge in this class of Cup boats.

“There was a bit too much wind, and the boat itself in our case didn’t have enough lifting force from the foil or from the dagger boards, and that’s why all the bear-aways since the beginning were quite tricky,” Peyron said.

Peyron, a 53-year-old from France who is one of the most experienced and successful multihull sailors in history, was, unusually, not on board but was following closely in a chase boat. He said the yacht “pitch-poled” — a term used when a multihull’s bows dig into the water and the stern flips up and over the bows. Peyron said that, contrary to some reports, the boat did not break before it capsized.

“We read a lot of false stories about that,” he said. “The boat breaks after, or should I say during, but the capsize was already on its way. After that for sure what is unacceptable is that the boat broke.”

Asked if Simpson’s problems were a result of the boat breaking up, Peyron said, “Yes, exactly.”

“That’s the worst case for sure,” Peyron said. “Because he was trapped not under the net but between the beams and the wing.”

So according to Peyron, the failure of the structure did not lead to the capsize, but it occurred during the capsize and was the proximate cause of Simpson’s death (trapping him between hard structures that made escape difficult). That’s key information, and also confirms the struggle Artemis has had making the transition from upwind to downwind without disaster (probably the most dangerous moments for any AC72).

There’ s more about Artemis’ struggles, and the extreme danger of the AC72s, from Nathan Outteridge, in a recent interview with Scuttlebutt.

Taken all together it makes it hard to see how Artemis, even if it gets it boat together for a late entry to the racing, can legitimately compete for the America’s Cup. There are too many questions about boathandling, design, and team confidence, and too many hurdles.


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