Oracle catamaran capsizes on San Francisco Bay

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Oracle catamaran capsizes on San Francisco Bay

June 13, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) When America's Cup sailors said their fast new catamarans were cutting-edge and exciting, they were factoring in inevitable capsizes.Monday afternoon on breezy San Francisco Bay, it was no less than one of the most dominant skippers in America's Cup history, Russell Coutts, whose 45-foot catamaran went head-over-heels in a spectacular wipeout.Grinder Shannon Falcone was thrown through the wing sail and into the chilly water, and another crewman was thrown into the water. Falcone was examined by paramedics on the dock and taken to the hospital for precautionary X-rays. Sailors wear crash helmets and foul-weather gear when sailing the speedy boats.Coutts, the CEO of defending champion Oracle Racing, was racing skipper Jimmy Spithill as part of a media day to publicize the U.S. debut of the new boats. His boat was bearing away during the prestart maneuver when the bows buried in a wave and the cat lifted into the air and went over before coming to rest on its side.The catamaran was pulled upright by a support boat.Coutts almost capsized on Friday, the second day of Oracle's first testing session in the new cats on San Francisco Bay. The AC45s debuted earlier this year in New Zealand, where two capsized. The AC45s will be used for the AC World Series this year and next. The 2013 America's Cup will be sailed in 72-footers, which will be faster and more powerful.Sailors have known that getting up to speed in the new catamarans is going to be tricky and possibly dangerous.Coutts, a four-time America's Cup winner, was prophetic when he and Spithill spoke at a news conference earlier in the day about the risk-reward of sailing the cats."They're very demanding but also incredibly exciting," said Spithill, a 31-year-old Australian who is the youngest skipper to win the America's Cup.Said Coutts, a 49-year-old New Zealander: "Sometimes it helps to be a little younger, you know. You've got to get to the point of finding the edge and not going over the edge, and sometimes you're going to go over the edge. That applies not only in a sailing sense we're challenged as sailors like never before, probably, in these boats but in the design sense. These guys will tell you, that's one of the big considerations in the 72. Because the closer you design it to the edge, the faster it will go. But you don't want to go over the edge. Or preferably not over the edge."After sailing a monstrous, space-age trimaran to defeat Alinghi of Switzerland in 2010 to win the oldest trophy in international sports, Oracle owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison decided to contest the next America's Cup in catamarans on shorter courses to make the sport more TV-friendly. The cats replace the plodding monohulls that were used from 1992-2007."It's a complete change," Spithill said. "I think if you ask the average person about America's Cup, they think of guys sitting on the side of a monohull yacht, a heavy displacement yacht, going quite slowly around the course. These boats are the complete opposite. Everyone is wearing helmets for a reason. There's a significant amount of risk. They're probably one of the most athletic boats I've seen for the crew to sail. There's also a huge reward for sailing them well. They're the fastest boats out there at the moment. To get the best out of these boats, you have to push."The Oracle sailors joked about having an "old guy boat" and a "young guy boat.""We're trying to get comfortable with these boats. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks and I can tell you, I'm not sure if I'll ever get comfortable with these boats," Coutts said. "Anyway, I'm giving it a go. Basically, Jimmy and the guys are way better than we are in our boat right now. I'm pretty sure Jimmy and J.K. (tactician John Kostecki) get amused when we screw up. They had grins all over their face the other day when we almost capsized. Jimmy actually said to me, 'It's a pity you didn't capsize.' I don't know. we'll be certainly duking it out and trying to beat the hell out of each other just to try and get these guys ready to go and race the cup."Kostecki grew up sailing in the Bay Area."If these things are that much fun, the 72s are going to be wild," Kostecki said.The combination of the fast catamarans and San Francisco Bay is sure to be spectacular. The bay provides a natural amphitheater, ringed with famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, the Transamerica Pyramid and Coit Tower.

Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

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USATSI

Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

PROVO, Utah — Saint Mary's knows all about the raucous atmosphere at BYU. The Gaels hadn't won in Provo since 2013 and had only come out on top in three of their previous 12 trips.

Make it four out of 13.

Calvin Hermanson scored 17 points and No. 22 Saint Mary's cruised to a 70-57 victory over BYU on Saturday night, snapping a three-game road losing streak to its West Coast Conference rival.

"It's definitely one of the tougher places to play for us," Hermanson said. "Coming in here we know it's a huge crowd and we know they can get riled up on any 3-point shot or any run they make. We wanted to try to limit their runs and their big plays.

"The second half was pretty unbelievable how quiet the crowd was. It felt great for us."

With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Gaels (24-3, 14-2) clinched a second-place finish in the conference standings behind top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga.

Saint Mary's controlled the game most of the night, riding its staunch defense on one end and running efficient offense on the other. The Gaels were able to get to the rim consistently, but also knocked down 10 3-pointers.

BYU (19-10, 10-6) shot 39.7 percent from the field and connected on four 3s.

Evan Fitzner had 15 points for Saint Mary's, including 11 in the second half.

"We didn't turn the ball over and we shot the ball well," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said, "and were able to get some separation and then it made it tough on them. We kind of just wore them out after that.

"We're a little different team with Fitzner out there. He spaces the floor," Bennett added. "We just play a little different with Fitzner out there versus Jock (Landale). It's nice to have a Plan A and Plan B."

Saint Mary's took a 41-30 lead into halftime thanks to Hermanson's hot shooting and plenty of that trademark defense. The Gaels began the day ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, then held the Cougars to 37.9 percent shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Saint Mary's shot 57.1 percent at the other end, including a 3-for-4 effort from Hermanson from behind the arc.

"I feel like we're better than we showed tonight," BYU guard TJ Haws said. "That team made a lot of runs on us. Tough defensive and offensive team. Very poised and disciplined.

"I want our team to just fight. When they punch us in the face, I want us to punch them right back."

BYU kept Landale under control in the half — and in foul trouble throughout — but Saint Mary's scored 22 of its 41 first-half points in the paint.

Eric Mika had 18 points for BYU, and Yoeli Childs added 13.

"The key to the game was that they were comfortable the entire time in our gym," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "That's on us. We need to be ahead. We need to get them to speed up a little bit because they're a little bit uncomfortable.

"But the game went pretty much exactly how they wanted it to go and we couldn't flip it. We couldn't get on top."

BIG PICTURE

Saint Mary's: The Gaels will be the No. 2 seed in the WCC tournament. No. 1 Gonzaga secured the regular-season title Saturday with a win over Pacific. An early December defeat to UT-Arlington is the Gaels' only bad loss this season, with the other two coming against Gonzaga.

BYU: The Cougars likely needed a win against the No. 22 team in the country to make an argument for the NCAA Tournament off their regular-season credentials. BYU has lost all three games against ranked opponents by double digits, including to Saint Mary's twice, and doesn't have a signature win. The Cougars get one last chance against Gonzaga next Saturday.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

No. 22 Saint Mary's might find itself moving up a bit after No. 17 Florida State and No. 21 South Carolina lost on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Saint Mary's: Travel to face Pepperdine on Thursday.

BYU: Play at Portland on Thursday.

Three takeaways: Fourth line leads the way for Sharks in Arizona

Three takeaways: Fourth line leads the way for Sharks in Arizona

For the first time in five tries this season the Sharks managed to secure a regulation win over the last place Coyotes, 4-1 at Gila River Arena on Saturday. They keep their four-point lead over Edmonton, and are assured of going into the bye week in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division.

Here are our three takeaways from the win…

1 – Burns turns the tide…again

For the second time in a week, Brent Burns changed the momentum of a game with his deadly wrist shot. The Sharks were on their heels early – Arizona had a 16-9 shot advantage in the first period, perhaps jolted be a pregame ceremony – but Burns’ shot through traffic staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead and they were on their way.

“We kind of weathered their storm early,” Joe Pavelski told reporters. “There was a lot of energy in the building.”

It was similar to a game in New Jersey last Sunday, when Burns had a pair of second period goals, erasing a 1-0 deficit and putting his team on the track to victory.

According to Elias, Burns – who added a third period power play goal, too – is the first defenseman to score 18 goals on the road since Paul Coffey’s 22 in 1983-84. His 26 goals equal his total from last season, tying his franchise record.

“He’s having an MVP season,” Pete DeBoer told reporters. “He’s been that good for us all year and it’s every night. I don’t know what else to say. In my mind right now he’s the best player in the league, and we’re happy to have him on our team.”

Burns remains in third in the league in scoring with 63 points, four points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.

2 – Dell gets the job done…again

Getting his second start in a week, Aaron Dell made a new season high (and, thus, career high) with 36 saves. His best stop was early in the second period on Radim Vrbata, when he managed to snag a pin-balling puck from crossing the line, keeping the Sharks ahead 2-0. Had that one trickled over, the Coyotes might have been able to seize the momentum.

“I think I had it the whole time,” Dell told reporters. “I kind of saw it for a second and then when I turned back I was able to find it and scoop it underneath me.”

DeBoer said: “He’s been good every time we’ve put him in there.”

Dell, whose goals-against average is down to 1.95, outplayed Sharks nemesis Mike Smith, who had stopped 121 of 127 San Jose shots in three games this season.

“We got to Smitty in the first period, which was great,” Pavelski said. “We kind of know what he’s done to us the past few games, stopping a lot of pucks. … That was a big key for us.”

3 – Fourth line magic

Through two periods, the Sharks’ top two lines had generated a total of three shots on goal – one each from Joe Thornton, Kevin Labanc and Patrick Marleau.

Fortunately for the big guys, the fourth line was there to pick up the slack. Melker Karlsson posted three points (1g, 2a), Micheal Haley had one goal and one assist, and the fourth line generated all three of San Jose’s goals through 40 minutes.

One goal from the fourth line is a bonus. Three is virtually unheard of. 

“They showed up and played the right way,” DeBoer said. “Right from the drop of the puck they put pucks behind the other teams defense, they had good support, they created a lot of chances, and got rewarded for it. I think Dell and them were the difference in the game early through the first half, until we got going a little bit.”