Artemis in race to make America’s Cup start line


Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson’s team, the Swedish America’s Cup challenger Artemis Racing is to try and take part in the elimination trials which start in San Francisco in four weeks, but they do not expect to be able to race until up to a month after that.

British gold and silver Olympic medallist Simpson was killed when the 72-foot wing-powered catamaran crashed catastrophically in a training session. His funeral was at Sherborne Abbey a week ago,

There had been question marks over whether the team, led by his gold medal partner Iain Percy, could or would continue. Even now there is no outright decision to take part in the Louis Vuitton Cup elimination races which start on 5 July.

In a statement, the Swedish team said: “Artemis Racing is back at work following the memorial service for Andrew "Bart" Simpson. Starting on Monday, 3 June, the team resumed its preparation in earnest to compete in the 34th America’s Cup.

“The team is now working to ready its second AC72, which it expects to launch in a few weeks and which will undergo a rigorous testing regime. When the sailing team is satisfied that the boat can be pushed hard in race conditions, it will join the competition.

“We are working around-the-clock to get our new boat ready, in the water and to prepare our team to race” said Paul Cayard, CEO of Artemis Racing. "We still have a mountain to climb, but our plan is to launch our new boat in early July and get ourselves in a position where we can race by the end of the month." 

That leaves just Emirates Team New Zealand and the Prada-backed Italian team Luna Rossa to take part in a reduced series of races which will be more like extended training sessions. It is expected that the tem with the most wins would have a direct line to the LV Cup final with, if Artemis makes it, the winner between those two also joining the final.

But everything is still up in the air as a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety are implemented in order to convince the US Coastguard to issue licences to race on San Francisco Bay, including a permit for the Cup match itself, scheduled to begin on 7 September with the local team, Oracle Racing, as defender .

Race programmes for July and August have yet to be announced, hospitality plans are in tatters, and the event, which was billed as a spectacular summer of sailing for citizens of San Francisco and for visitors, needs a major injection of confidence.