Where America’s Cup Boats Go to Die

An Oracle Team USA yacht is being carved up for carbon-fiber parts recycling.

Don’t worry: We’re not talking about the catamaran that Oracle Team USA sailed this year to the greatest come-from-behind-victory in America’s Cup history. Instead, this is the story of USA-71, which was built for the 2003 America’s Cup but used only as a trial boat, then put on display at Oracle headquarters in California.

But the fate of USA-71 does hint at what might be in the future of many carbon-fiber racers that are no longer able to keep up on the racing circuit. USA-71 was once 80 feet of sailing yacht, and now she’s been carved into four sections of scrap material. Some of them are heading to the University of Nottingham in England for Boeing-funded research, the same kind that’s done when recycling carbon fiber from 787 airplanes. The remaining sections are at MIT-RCF in South Carolina, which also does carbon fiber recycling.

“We’re talking to different vendors to find uses for the content,” Chris Sitzenstock, logistics manager for Oracle Team USA, told The Seattle Times. “We’re talking to Hobie and the guy who makes fins for wakeboards.”

So there you have it: Former America's Cup racing yachts may end up as the fins on standup paddleboards. Talk about giving all of us a chance to feel like we're a part of the action out there on the water. How cool is that?