Trump is done. Bezos dethroned. Musk is king. The office is dead. Commuting is so 2019. Masks are ubiquitous. Pubs are shut. Travel is banned. Brexit is history. Vaccines are coming. And in the America’s Cup the dockside chatter is all around a new order.
Breathless emails were aplenty yesterday with the news that Ineos Team UK were right back in the game after some solid unofficial racing in good breeze against American Magic.
New rig, new sails, new control systems, the boat looks like a weapon – every opinion under the sun. And it’s lovely to see. It’s what we all hoped for. But is it enough? Is it enough to score that desperately needed win on the opening day next Friday that will propel momentum stratospherically? Can they get that win, no matter how it is scored, against either Magic in the opening bout or Prada in the afternoon session?
Well my money is on “yes” but with a caveat. The Brits look great in a breeze and that’s testament to the hard hours they’ve spent training. Crew work looks really positive. The boat systems look 500% better. The wings are the wings, don’t go down that rabbit-hole. The sail programme looks sort of on the right track so long as that track doesn’t veer too much – and all the signs are that American Magic are pushing on this envelope with their new ‘batwing’ main with protruding battens off the leech.
But yes, we now know that Ineos can take the fight to the other challengers but they are going to need a full regimental army of wind dancers performing at their highest level on the tow out to the course. This boat needs wind. And the long-range forecast looks light. Eeek.
But be under no illusion. This is a huge step forward for Ben and the team. They plunged the depths of the abyss and have got themselves back. That takes some character, guts and team work and whilst pundits like me are quick to criticise we are also quick to praise. It’s the Manchester United theory. When they’re winning they could be better. When they lose it’s the end of the world. As a Chelsea supporter it’s different. Abramovich just fires everyone if results don’t go his way. But in the Cup, the time for change is over and we are so near the end of the cycle now that talk is cheap. Punditry is meaningless. It’s all about sports performance.
It’s also getting close to the big reveal. What is about to be brought out from the shed? I think we are seeing development trickling out and I maintain that all the big developments will be in the engine room up aloft and in the unseen mechatronics below. Boat design is done. American Magic looks the most radical and if they are right, Team New Zealand could well be eyeing a move from the muscular lioness to the scalpel. Magic looks like a ballet dancer on speed. Team New Zealand like a light welterweight – think Terence Crawford. Prada like a stealth bomber and Ineos could be about to gatecrash this party like an East End gangster with a flick-knife in his pocket.
Whilst the mods come onstream, one thing’s for sure. This Prada Cup is going to eclipse anything we have seen before. For a development class, the boats are going to be surprisingly close. Who’s got it right? Who’s got it desperately wrong? We’ll know very shortly. Personally I’m doing the wind dance.
I would love to see a new order emerging.