Harken Derm

Artemis Racing – On a Wing and a prayer…

Published on August 11th, 2013

By Cynthia Ross, Visual.Ink.Communications
After heroic efforts in the last three months, Artemis Racing’s AC72 “Big Blue” appeared on the water for just 13 days.

Eliminated now from the competition after a 4-0 sweep in the Louis Vuitton Semi-Finals, Principal Torbjorn Tornqvist declared, “For us as a team, to race, that was a win.”

The Swedish Chairman and financier of the team, representing the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, Tornqvist expressed the dedication and perseverance of the campaign, the Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup.

In May, after a tragic training accident, which reduced Artemis “Big Red” to a twisted pile of carbon fiber, and took the life of Olympic Medalist Andrew “Bart” Simpson, the sailing world held its breathe to see if the campaign could, or would continue.

Tornqvist left the decision up to the team.

Work on the second AC72 catamaran, “Blue” resumed at a 24/7 feverish pitch, with team members finding some catharsis in the labor. As Paul Cayard said, “quitting is not in the DNA of team Artemis.”

The team rallied, with ribbons in memory of Bart emblazoned on the 131 foot wing, their uniforms, and chase boats. Skipper Ian Percy had to face the start line, for the first race, without his childhood friend and sailing partner.

With only a few days of actual practice on a foiling AC72, the team steadily improved, with some of the closest racing in the competition yet. But they ran out of time.

With an aggressive start on the final day, and subsequent penalty after contact, Artemis “Blue” swept across the finish two minutes, twelve seconds behind the Italian’s victorious Luna Rossa… a lifetime in yacht racing.

In spite of the staggering price tag, 13 days of sailing at a cost of over 100 million dollars, Tornqvist sees this as their first, but not their last America’s Cup campaign. “It’s difficult to say what the format will be for the next Cup. These are spectacular boats and the tradition of America’s Cup has always been spectacular boats, at its time. I think these boats are different, controversial in many aspects. Some of the traditional racing perhaps gets lost, its more raw speed, but I think it’s too early to summarize. There are pros and cons, clearly, to this…”

Ian Percy said, on the loss of Simpson, “Any group of people that’s been through what we did, it has a gelling component to it. We became close, and one thing for sure is that it allows you to go forward with a lot of confidence as a team. I think it’s going to be incredibly strong in the future, and Andrew will be a big part of that.”

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