New Order

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?

©Ineos Team UK

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.

© Sailing Energy / American Magic

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.

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4 thoughts on “New Order

  1. “Trump is gone, Brexit is history”… we wish.

    The subtext that hangs over AC36 is that we are watching Americans and Brits on an international stage at a time when both of their countries are in crisis, and as wonderful as the sailors and team staff probably are as people, among the backers of both teams are people (Doug deVos and Jim Ratcliffe) who have supported the very same toxic politicians who have caused these messes in their home countries, including bungling the coronavirus response that has prevented us from having a full World Series.

    Obviously this is sports and there will be no talk of anything political during the coverage of the event itself beyond whatever environmental programs are part of the America’s Cup events. I would probably not have had the courage to even bring these issues up at all if you had not invoked them here first.

    But as we are all living in a larger world even as we sit down to relax and watch the racing and cannot escape the climate of the times in which we love, we cannot help but wonder— what kind of America and what kind of UK are American Magic and Team INEOS representing in Auckland and what are we cheering for when we cheer them on?

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  2. Your Majesty, there’s no second. My prediction for 2021, Ben and Co will challenge the Kiwis for the America’s Cup, 6th March 2021.

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  3. Kai you are right to criticise, Ineos is one of the more disgusting companies in terms of their environmental record and support of certain political factions, just look up ‘Grangemouth’ for a recent example. whilst the critique can be aimed at all of the other teams, the greenwashing and sportwashing along with getting their logo alongside BLM (look up any recent image of Louis Hamilton) is from a cynical standpoint a remarkable piece of PR. But not one that shouldnt be open to direct critique and recognition of what is actually happening here.

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