Team Sky, Not smooth sailing.
A Sky team building exercise went afoul today in rough seas off the coast of Southern Britain.
The World Tour squad was learning to sail with members of the British Sailing team when two of the boats collided, throwing rivals Bradley WIggins and Chris Froome into yet another confrontation.
According to eyewitness accounts, the sailboat captained by Olympic and World champion Bradley Wiggins apparently swung wildly off course in high winds and crashed into the boat crewed by former Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
No serious injuries were reported but Froome was apparently knocked overboard along with Carer Pete Smith. American rider Ian Boswell, also in the Froome boat, sustained a sprained wrist and a laceration on his left forearm.
A coastal rescue boat arrived shortly after to tow the disabled Froome boat back to port. The mast snapped in the collision and there was a large gash along the front of the craft.
It is unclear exactly what caused the collision on Weymouth Bay but northwesterly winds reached 12-14 knots in the aftermath of Hurricane Gonzalo.
At least one member of the British Sailing team found the circumstances auspicious. “Boats just don’t suddenly change course by the themselves,” said Michael Longtale. “One minute Wiggins’ boat is sailing along just fine and the next, his bow is smashing into the other boat. I find that odd.
Wiggins refused comment on the incident, saying only that winds were “a bit tricky” and that perhaps the Froome boat had “moved off its line somewhat.” He claimed to have been below deck but an eyewitness placed him at the control of the rudder just moments before impact.
Team manager David Brailsford remained upbeat despite the accident. “Sailing is something that none of us have done so we were all pretty excited about what it could offer, and now having done it, I’m very, very happy about what it delivered. It’s always interesting for those who have been involved in Olympic sport, or any sport – when you see a sport and you’re aware of it, but you’ve never actually taken part.”
However, the team building quickly nearly turned into a catastrophe during the fourth and final race of the mini-regatta late in the afternoon. The boats were traveling at full speed when the collision occurred. Froome was quickly fished out of the water and the SOuth African could only shake his head — things could have been much worse.
Brailsford did admit that bike handling and boat handling skills are two very different things. “You learn straight away that sailing a boat’s not easy, it’s very technical, there’s a lot of communication required, a lot of co-ordination required and you’ve got to be thinking in the same way.”
Froome’s fiancee Michele Cound has already called for a full naval investigation.