'It's not a great feeling': crew member on capsize

American Magic just after capsizing during the Prada Cup. Photo: Michael Craig/NZ Herald
American Magic just after capsizing during the Prada Cup. Photo: Michael Craig/NZ Herald
An American Magic crew member has relived the harrowing moment he realised their boat would capsize in the Hauraki Gulf - and what the ensuing days have been like as the team scramble to rebuild their America's Cup campaign.

In an exclusive interview on NZME's new America's Cup show Beyond the Cup, flight controller Andrew Campbell also reveals how Kiwi helmsman Dean Barker has dealt with the fallout from the incident that has left the AC75 with significant damage and the outfit in a race against the clock to have it repaired in time for the Prada Cup semifinals.

Patriot tipped over after tacking bearaway at 45kn on the penultimate leg of their race against Luna Rossa on Sunday, with a rescue effort of more than three hours required to save the vessel from sinking.

"I'm in the front seat, so I saw the whole thing happen as close as it gets," Campbell told Beyond the Cup's Matt Brown.

"It's not a great feeling being the highest guy in that moment. We knew that we were going to have a hard manoeuvre going round the top, that we needed to go around that mark. In the biggest puff of the day that was the only direction we could be going."

According to Campbell, they tried everything to minimise the impact - but were left helpless once the boat headed skyward.

"When we did get round the top ...we didn't quite manage to get the rudder through that turn. On the [TV] replays you can see the rudder sink [and] at that point you don't really have any more control over the foils at all.

"No amount of minimum flap is going to bring the hull back down at that point [and] you're just waiting to see if you can get any grip on that foil at all to cushion the boat on the way down."

American Magic shore crew have been working overtime to repair a massive hole in Patriot's hull, as well as replacing the boat's electronics and foil cant system.

"It's a beehive right now. Everybody from our team is doing everything they can, and some things that they are learning to do, to try help the boat get back together," Campbell said.

"Quite a few members of other teams have been through to help us assess what is going on and provide feedback and what they can from their programmes. It's been unbelievable how wide-ranging the support has been from the other teams and from across New Zealand."

American Magic helmsman Barker continues to have the full support of his crew, despite the Kiwi making the call that eventually led to the capsize.

"He wears these situations harder than anyone and he puts pressure on himself to make sure that he goes out and executes on the day," Campbell said.

"There's no doubt these things come down to the guy in helm - to make the final call, to make the final decision. We in the afterguard have a responsibility to help him make good decisions and I feel like we did and we will continue to do so.

"The guy [Barker] has an unbelievable amount of experience, and we have total confidence that he will continue to make good decisions to get us around the race course, not only safely but in places where we can win."

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