The owner of the Italian sailing team Luna Rossa said safety needs to be improved at the America’s Cup races following the training death of Olympic yachtsman Andrew Simpson.
Patrizio Bertelli, chief executive officer of Prada SpA, said in a news conference yesterday in Alameda, California, that lower wind speed limits should be considered, as well as having medical personnel on the water.
“We want to increase the safety of the sailors,” Bertelli said through a translator. “The wind limits need to be within reason.”
Bertelli’s team proposed that the wind speed limit at the start of the America’s Cup finals be reduced from 33 knots (38 miles per hour, 61 kilometers per hour) to 25 knots.
The panel reviewing Simpson’s death recommended two days ago that teams suspend sailing until the middle of next week. The America’s Cup Review Committee said in a news release on the regatta’s website that the suspension applied to training in 45-foot and 72-foot catamarans.
The review into Simpson’s death is being led by Iain Murray, the regatta director, and includes Sally Lindsay Honey, the two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year who led last year’s review into the wreck that killed five sailors from the boat Low Speed Chase during the Full Crew Farallones Race out of San Francisco.
The accident involving the Swedish team Artemis Racing was the second involving the new 72-foot (22-meter) boats. Powered by 131-foot carbon wing sails and capable of skimming above the water on hydrofoils at speeds exceeding 40 knots, they are among the fastest sailboats ever built. Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA, the defending champion, destroyed a wing during an October training accident.
Ellison, chief executive of Redwood City, California-based Oracle Corp., won the right to host this year’s America’s Cup by defeating a catamaran sailed by Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi syndicate in a two-boat, best-of-three series off Valencia, Spain, using a 90-foot trimaran with a 223-foot rigid wing sail. Ellison’s organizers then remade the Cup for television audiences, using the high-speed, twin-hulled boats to replace traditional monohulls.
Simpson, 36, died May 9 after he was trapped beneath a section of the capsized yacht, out of site from other vessels and divers searching for him, Murray said.
Artemis held a private memorial service for Simpson two days ago, according to the event’s website. Representatives for each of the four participating syndicates laid a wreath in San Francisco Bay.
Bertelli is worth $7.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the bulk of which is derived from his 28 percent stake in Prada, and cash earned from shares sales in the company’s 2011 IPO and dividends.
Bertelli is married to the granddaughter of Prada founder Mario Prada, and, since the late 1970s, the couple has overseen the company’s global expansion, including the introduction of new products, brands and retail outlets. Prada was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2011, which generated more than $1 billion in proceeds for the couple.