Safety recommendations unveiled for the America's Cup following death of Andrew 'Bart' Simpson
The British Olympian died during training for the race
Thirty-seven recommendations aimed at reducing the inherent dangers of the 72-foot America’s Cup race boats have been announced by regatta director Iain Murray as a result of a review following the death of British Olympic gold medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.
The exact causes of Simpson's death on San Francisco Bay while training on the Swedish challenger Artemis have yet to be released, along with the medical examiner's report, by the San Francisco Police Department.
The recommendations are Murray's, not of his committee, which has been given advice not to make itself responsible, and focus on tightening the conditions in which the boats would be allowed to race and call for more personal safety equipment and an increase in support boats.
The minimum wind speed is raised from three to 10 knots - which negates a lot of work done to lower the speed at which the boats lift themselves up on foils - and the upper limit is reduced to 20 or 21 for the preliminary rounds and 23 for the final.
The previous upper limit for the final, scheduled to begin on 7 September, was 33 knots, a stipulation that would have been built into all of the original design work.
The three challengers - the Swedes, Emirates Team New Zealand, and Italy's Prada-backed Luna Rossa - are due to race against each other from 5 July in the Louis Vuitton Cup. This would, under the Murray plan, be reduced from seven round robins to five in order to allow more time for repairs.
Pit lane shore crews are already very large and faced a fine of $100,000 if boats were unable to take part in a scheduled race. The fine has been dropped and the inclusion of an onboard guest during the races has been banned.
Attempts will be made to come up with protective body armour, as demanded by Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli, though there is little time for its development. High visibility crash helmets would be worn, increased oxygen supplies carried both personally and on various parts of the boat, and knives carried for crews to cut themselves free.
Team New Zealand's managing director Grant Dalton said the team supports the review committee's recommendations in principle. "They are prudent and reasonable," he said.
"The committee has done some remarkable work in only six days. The details still have to be worked on but we see nothing that will adversely affect the event.
"We have confidence in our boat - design, engineering and construction - and the sailing and support crews. We have invested a lot of time and money on safety."
Said ceo Paul Cayard: "Artemis Racing is back to work. We will only race if our sailing team believes they are safe racing AC72s. This confidence will be dependent on many criteria, one of the most important of which is the new safety criteria and rules changes that the America's Cup organizers and competitors will adopt.
"Regarding the accident on San Francisco Bay, Artemis Racing is still in the process of conducting its own internal review. I understand that frustration exists out there because questions remain about the accident. It was, however, a complex event. We want to give it the time, respect and professionalism it deserves, so we thank everyone for their continued patience during this process."
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