The witches in Macbeth had it about right: “Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble.” For the British team in this Cup cycle it’s: ‘double, double foil trouble’ and they were once again at the mercy of a ruthless King in the form of Team New Zealand today. Shakespeare’s play is all about rampant ambition for the crown and ends with Macbeth being beheaded on the field of battle by a ruthless warrior in the form of Macduff. Ambition is a killer. The casting is obvious. Ainslie as Macbeth, Dalton as Macduff. The inevitable is real.
The America’s Cup has many shipwrecks on its shore. The vast majority of them, so the history books show, are British. It almost feels like an impossible dream. I wonder whether, in my lifetime, I will ever see the English football team lift the World Cup. I doubt it. I have the same feeling about the America’s Cup. It is such a monumental mountain to climb, so difficult to win, and you are drawn to it like the great mountaineers “because it’s there.”
Challengers come and challengers go. The Brits normally put up a decent fight but have always failed. This time the belief was, and probably still is in some mad corners of the internet, there but unless you believe in miracles and witchcraft, the result is inevitable. The arc of history will not be bent in this cycle.
Today’s one-day Prada Christmas Race was farcical from the get-go. The wind didn’t play ball and exposed the new AC class as the donkeys they are in displacement. Ugly carbon monoliths, wallowing and pitching are a sad sight and not what the event wishes to portray. For traditionalists like me that have harped on about bringing back displacement boats in the Cup, our theories are consigned to the dustbin. The Cup is on the right path, they just need to bring in a higher wind range at the lower end and can the racing if it looks like dropping below.
But whilst the racing lasted it was agony and embarrassment for the British sailors. Towed up onto their foils to get into the pre-start with Team New Zealand, one gybe and then a drag race to the start line which they missed down in coffin’s corner, the team were smoked by under-fire Pete Burling. The mountain is very steep to climb anywhere near the favourites. Tacking onto port saw Ineos splashdown and that was that. They never got foiling again. The Kiwis sailed off to the horizon, rounded the top mark, flew down the run and then came back to lap a desperate outfit wondering how much more of this they can take.
Credit to Ben and Giles Scott, they kept their humour but it’s gallows humour. They know just how embarrassing this Cup is for them and what it’s doing for future employment opportunities in the game. The only thing they can do is keep it professional and maintain the belief that brighter days are ahead.
We are 100% going to see a different Ineos when they come back on January 15th. Everything will be thrown at this now including the kitchen sink. Everybody is watching. It is the story of the Cup so far – although I would argue that the real story that is about to be played is the New York Yacht Club’s challenge. Ineos is a side-show. A macabre entertainment of sorts that the Cup so acutely and brutally throws up in nearly every cycle.
The fact that the race was ultimately abandoned as Team New Zealand missed the time limit by a few seconds is irrelevant. The pecking order has been firmly established.
The Michaelmas Term is over and the report cards are in. Team New Zealand is the teacher’s pet, top of the class. American Magic is a pleasure to teach and just needs to work on its exam technique. Prada is a bit disruptive in class, shows flashes of excellence but could do with concentrating more. For Ineos, the headmaster is questioning the parents as to whether this is the right school for their child.
The Lent Term begins on January 15th and we’ll see who hired the best tutors over the Christmas holidays. As the witches say, the fire is burning and the caldron is bubbling. Can’t wait. The America’s Cup is game-on.
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