America’s Cup: Has world-renowned regatta become a gladiator sport?

Published on July 22nd, 2013

The America’s Cup “summer of racing” may have gotten off to a bumbling and controversial start, but on a windy day in the bay Sunday, thousands of spectators enjoyed a front-row seat to the thrill and drama of world-class racing.

Gasps of surprise and worry rumbled across the Embarcadero when a front sail on the New Zealand boat came crashing down onto the trampoline deck of the 72-foot catamaran before the crew cut it loose and sent the rumpled sail drifting into the bay. It was a spectacle one commentator called an “emergency on Planet Kiwi.”

Emirates Team New Zealand recovered quickly and still managed to beat Italy’s Luna Rossa by more than two minutes, its second victory this month. But the crowd – conditioned by months of news reports to expect calamity, if not catastrophe, on the race course – seemed to relish Sunday’s accident, which ripped the jib off the front of the boat.

“I love the loss of the jib,” said Kirsten Fagnan, 33, a mathematician from Oakland who watched the race from America’s Cup Park at the end of Pier 27/29 with a group of friends. “That was absolutely amazing they were able to keep going.”

Even 11-year-old Wilson Conn, of Atherton, who watched with his two brothers and parents, had one thing on his mind: “I want to see if it capsizes.”

Has the America’s Cup come to this – a gladiator sport?

“It’s fast and furious, and you know someone can get hurt,” said Summer Gourdine, of Tiburon, who also joined her friends to watch the race on the end of the pier. “You’re drawn to it anyway.” – San Jose Mercury News, read on.

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