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America’s Cup officials promise full investigation

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America’s Cup officials have promised a full investigation into the safety of their new sailing vessels after British Olympic gold medalist Andrew Simpson died Thursday amid an accident during team practice in San Francisco Bay.

Simpson became trapped beneath his crew’s 72-foot catamaran for ten minutes after the boat flipped and capsized in heavy winds. First responders were unable to revive Simpson once he was pulled from the boat’s wreckage.

America’s Cup CEO Stephen Barclay said he plans to find out exactly what happened Thursday to ensure the safety of his athletes in the future.

“Artemis Racing, Andrew, and his team were out there practicing,” Barclay told the London Telegraph. “They weren’t in event mode or anything like that so what we’ll be doing is reviewing the circumstances and try to understand exactly what happened and remove all the speculation to find out the facts.

“Then we’ll review what we’ve found and if there is a need to make changes, we’ll make them. But we won’t make a judgment now about what might happen in the future.”

The new boats, different than the single hulled vessels of the past, are built long, tall, and light to be sailed at incredible speeds.There’s been talk about safety problems with large catamarans for a couple years, and Team Origin principle Sir Keith Mills actually scrapped his plans of competing in 2011 out of fear that the boats were unsafe for his group, which in the past had included Simpson.

“Seeing what those boats were capable of – speeds of up to 40 knots – frightened the life out of me,” Mills admitted. “The class rules looked like they were dangerous boats to sail. At 40 knots, the control is minimal. Hit a big wave and that is it.”

After Team Oracle capsized amid similar conditions last October in San Francisco, Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena told the New York Times that it similar incidents were likely to happen because the boats were becoming too powerful. But Barclay doesn’t seem to assume much will change.

“As with high-performance sports, where athletes are pushing themselves in their craft to their limits, sometimes things go wrong,” Barclay concluded. “That’s the nature of what they do.”

U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

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Bob Costas’ report 100 days out from Rio (video)

Bob Costas
NBC News
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Bob Costas reported from Rio de Janeiro for NBC News on Wednesday, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony.

In the clip below, Michael PhelpsSimone Biles and even Brazil soccer legend Pelé comment on preparing for the first Games in South America.

Costas finished the clip with a stand-up from Copacabana Beach, where beach volleyball will take place in August.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics