The finals of the 34th America's Cup are days away, but they will take place in the long shadow cast by the events of May 9th. On that morning, sailing in the high winds of the San Francisco Bay, an enormous catamaran capsized while making a turn. The 72-foot boat, which can sail faster than the wind, splintered into pieces as its towering sail hit the water. Andrew Simpson, a 36-year-old sailor aboard Sweden's Artemis Racing AC72, was trapped underneath the boat for 10 minutes. When medical crews reached him, he could not be revived.

The finals of this year's America's Cup begin September 7th. Defending champion Oracle Team USA, led by billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison, will take on Emirates Team New Zealand. The teams have spent more than $100 million apiece, employing hundreds of people, to build the fastest sailboats the race has ever seen. But Simpson's death, which came seven months after the dramatic capsizing of an Oracle sailboat, dredged up the question that has dogged the AC72 ever since it was announced as the official yacht class for the race. Is it too fast to be safe?