Skipper’s Press Conference: Terry Hutchinson on Patriot’s Capsize, Recovery and Next Steps

January 18 - Recap on the AC capsize


Jan 18, 2021

Auckland, New Zealand – After a mostly sleepless night following the capsize and near-sinking of American Magic’s AC75 racing yacht, PATRIOT, Skipper and Executive Director Terry Hutchinson answered questions for assembled journalists in Auckland, and additional press patched in via Zoom.


On the local assistance: “We need to recognize the heroic effort by everybody in the Auckland community that came forward to rescue PATRIOT from despair. In particular the local authorities, the police, the fire and rescue, and then finally the competitors, Team New Zealand and INEOS and Luna Rossa. They were spectacular. When you think about that family, our sailing community, it was awesome to see the show of support.”

On safety: “Fortunately, while [PATRIOT] has a bit of damage to her, the crew is safe. And at the end of the day, that’s really all you can ask for.”

On team dynamics: “I trust Andrew and Dean, as we all do when we get on that boat day in and day out. We trust them with our lives. When one of those guys makes a comment and you hear it in his tone about it being light, you take it seriously. It is truly one of those games that if you make one mistake and the boat touches down, it doesn’t take much for the guy behind to get around you. And so we made the decision to do what we did.”

On the AC75 at full speed: “The boats by nature are most-controlled when they’re going fast. When you slow down from 40 knots to 30 knots, the apparent wind goes aft, all the load in the boat goes up and the boat becomes unstable. So if you have the opportunity to keep the thing ripping all the time, and go as fast as possible, it’s the easiest to control.

On the crash: “We struggled through that maneuver because we got a puff at about the same time we were bearing off, and we were accelerating. In that exact moment, the runner was a little bit fetched up on the mainsail, the sails were eased and the boat was accelerating but we were still building up to our top speed. Those are the unfortunate consequences of racing in an incredibly turbulent condition.”

On the damage: “You look at the boat speed when the boat was accelerating through the trajectory of the turn, and we were going 47 knots or something. There’s transverse structure inside the boat and then there’s a longitudinal structure. And when you look at the boat in slow motion, it popped quite a wheelie. The leeward foil came out of the water and we got a reasonable amount of bow-out altitude up. And when the boat slammed down, it’s fine if it slams flat on its keel. But when you land on the side, on the flat panel, basically the structure inside the yacht just guillotined the panel and out it came.”

On the near-sinking: “At the time, it felt like the boat was going to sink. We were doing everything we possibly could to prevent that from happening. Everybody around us, from the other teams to the local authorities helped us get the pumps in the boat, and we ended up with 16 pumps inside the boat. We had a jib wrapped around the hole. And then the fire and rescue [units] deployed what I would categorize as two ‘airplane-style’ life rafts that we wrapped underneath the bow of the boat and inflated. That really that stopped the bleeding, from that moment on.”

On team unity: “We win as a team and we lose as a team”

On helmsman Dean Barker: “Dean is a critical part of our team. I’ve encouraged him since we started this program; ‘be Dean Barker, don’t be anything different.’ We want the person that has all the intensity that he has, but also has a certain demeanor about him which makes him the perfect person to sail this boat. He’s got a little bit of ice water in his veins, which is what the boat requires. I think when we go out and go sailing the next time, I’ll always encourage him, ‘Don’t take your foot off the pedal because that’s what will bite us.’ We, as a team, have the utmost confidence in him and his abilities. From my perspective, there’s nobody else we’d rather have on the wheel than him.”

On the repair timeline: “The guys have to get the boat ready, and and we have to follow a bit of a procedure to do it because the boat’s just that complex. The intention is to put the boat back to exactly how we left it yesterday. It’s probably a little bit too early to suggest an exact time that we’ll be back out on the water, but we know we have a hard deadline of a week from Friday for the semifinal.”

On the local marine industry in New Zealand: “We have great support from the Auckland maritime and boat building community to help us. We’ve had great support from all the teams. Everybody has offered up their services to get PATRIOT back on the water. As competitors, we sit here a majority of the time and we argue with each other about things. But at the end of the day, you couldn’t come across more sportsmanship or more generous teams that we have around us. With all the sincerity in the world, they’ve extended pretty much all of their facilities to us to use to rebuild PATRIOT.”

On ETNZ’s boatbuilding help: “From a boat building perspective, the defenders are in the strongest position to help us because we’re in their hometown. If you want to look at it with the glass ‘half full,’ which I do, they’re winding down a certain portion of their program and there’s a lot of people there that are available to help us out straight away. They’ve put us in contact and I spoke with Grant Dalton, Richard Meachem, and others this morning, who helped us get the boat in last night. I think Dalt’s quote was, ‘Whatever you need, we have it for you.'”

On the community of America’s Cup teams: “It’s nice to have friends across all the teams. It is a great example for not only us as competitors, but for our sailing community and family worldwide. There’s an element of sportsmanship that’s at the highest level.”

On American Magic’s performance: “When you think about what all the teams have had to endure to get here, to deal with some of the things that we’ve had to deal with over the last three years, it would be a bit of a mistake not to give everything that we had to get the boat back out on the racecourse and in good working order. I think one of the biggest positives that we took out of yesterday was you could see over the course of the race that the boat was going really well. We had plenty of speed.”

On the resolve of American Magic: “The beauty of our team is that there’s a high level of resolve, and I think what we’re going to see over the next eight to 10 days is the boat get rebuilt. She might not come out of the shed as pretty, but she’s going to come out of the shed and we’re going to get back into racing. When you walk around and you look at everybody in the face and you look everybody in the eyes, you get a sense that we’re going to do whatever it takes. And that’s what we’ve done from the get-go. You know, there has never been a wavering in the commitment from [Principals] Doug [DeVos], Hap [Fauth] and Roger [Penske] and the New York Yacht Club or from our team members. We’re all in this together. And I think you see that.” 





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