Sail GP Team Ejected From Boat When Crew Member Pushes Wrong Button

The team was forced to withdraw from the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix after severely damaging its boat

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Gif: SailGP

It’s understandable to assume that yacht racing is solely the purview of ascot-wearing socialites. However, hydrofoiling catamarans used in the highest level of international competition aren’t toys. SailGP yachts are capable of reaching 60 miles per hour. Higher speeds also mean bigger incidents, and Team USA found out the hard way last Friday during practice for the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix.

The damaged Team USA wingsail after the practice race crash
Photo: SailGP

The Team USA yacht was rounding the first mark when the top of the wingsail inverted, pitching the catamaran over. Almost the entire crew fell from their starboard stations onto the wing, displaying exactly why they all have to wear helmets while racing. SailGP stated that the incident was caused by user error. The user in question was the team’s wing trimmer Victor Diaz de Leon. He said, “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.” Data showed he hit that button seven times.

Top 5 Crashes of SailGP | SailGP

While his teammates escaped the crash unscathed, the damage to the yacht was so significant that Team USA withdrew from the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix before the competition officially began. While visually dramatic, SailGP’s most dangerous crashes are when two or more boats collide. It’s never fun to have carbon-fiber craft with exposed cockpits bashing into each other at nearly highway speeds. In some ways, I’d rather crash a Formula 1 car.