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Behind the scenes at America's Cup event

  • Sweden's Artemis Racing team pass by Alcatraz while competing with Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge during first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals of the America's Cup on Tuesday. (Conner Jay / PD)

The seven-ton catamaran with a sail the size of an airplane wing tilted, hovering over the San Francisco Bay, as sailors raced from one side to the other.

The crew, suited up in black armored vests and bright yellow crash helmets, were working the gears on the AC72, a sailboat so technologically advanced and dangerous that it requires a lot of practice, even for the world's best sailors, to maneuver successfully.

But the Artemis Racing team launched its boat in the water just 10 days before competing in Tuesday's Louis Vuitton cup semifinals. The team had suffered a tragic accident in May, when its boat capsized during practice rounds and one of its sailors, Andrew “Bart” Simpson, was trapped under the boat and drowned.

America's Cup

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The loss was devastating for Simpson's teammates, who called him a binding force.

“I've lost first and foremost my best mate, but once in a while when I'm out and about I realize I've also lost the best sailing partner you'll ever have,” said Iain Percy, skipper for the Artemis team, who had competed in several Olympics with Simpson and served as best man in his wedding.

“He was the person the team would turn to if there was a need for support,” said Andrea Tagliamacco, head of commercial partnerships for Artemis Racing. “We know he was doing something he really loved, and we know he would want us to continue.”

The May accident also totaled the team's boat, which had to be rebuilt. The boat itself costs $6 million to $8 million, Tagliamacco said.

Despite those challenges, the Artemis Team, which hails from Sweden but has sailors from all over the world, competed Tuesday against Italian team Luna Rossa. Artemis didn't win, but team members said they were pleased they were able to finish the race.

Kim Stare Wallace, president of Dry Creek Vineyard and a lifelong sailing enthusiast, was enthusiastic about a behind-the-scenes look she got Tuesday from the Artemis Team's VIP lounge, a second story suite with a balcony view overlooking the finish line in a building erected for the America's Cup. Her company is providing wine for the team's events.

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