Sailors Make Narrow Escape From Capsizing Vessel During Harrowing Crash


The majority of Team U.S.A. was sent plummeting overboard their F50 vessel in a horrifying crash on Friday during a practice day for the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix. The terrifying incident was caught on camera from several angles, including a harrowing viewpoint from inside the boat as it flipped.

Per SailGP, the crash occurred just as the vessel hit Mark One, when the vessel’s top wing became inverted. Footage shows the boat lifting into the air, seemingly light as a feather. As it turns entirely onto its left side, five of the six crew members fall from their seats and bounce from the sail into the water. A few are able to hang on and cling, screaming, to the boat’s shrouds.

Miraculously, each member of Team U.S.A. survived the crash with only minor injuries. However, the damage to their boat was so grave that repairing it in time for the competition was impossible. They were therefore unable to compete in Bermuda.

It was later determined that “user error” had been the cause of the crash. SailGP data revealed that the team’s wing trimmer, Victor Diaz de Leon, had pressed the wrong button, accidentally inverting the wing.

Diaz de Leon had intended to flatten the wing, but confused the two buttons. The data showed that the inversion button was pressed a total of seven times prior to the accident, indicating that it was working properly and had not malfunctioned.

“While operating the wing, I chose the wrong function on my control panel, which caused our boat to flip. It was very scary, and I’m thankful all my teammates are safe,” Diaz de Leon told SailGP. He added that he was “disappointed” in himself for the error.

“Mistakes happen at any level,” team CEO and strategist Mike Buckley told the outlet. “We compete as a team and whatever the outcome is—whether it’s what we want—we win and lose as a team, and we learn from it.”

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