What do we watch top-level sport for? Human endeavour? Yes. Tribalism? Occasionally. Success and failure? Yes. Drama? Absolutely. And today out on the Hauraki Gulf, the America’s Cup came alive and put to bed any of this nonsensical argument about returning to traditional lead-mines or ‘furniture racing’ as I like to call it. It was full-on drama. The first stills came through in my inbox at about 4am UK time, and were quickly followed by the onboard footage. Give these AC75s a bit of breeze – it was a solid 15 knots – and oh my goodness me, this is the best racing you will ever see in your lifetime. And take a look at this. This is the video of videos…
Thankfully none of the Team New Zealand boys were injured in the making of this film and it’s good to see how fast the chase boats were on the scene – big tick to the race organisers and the teams and you realise now why the teams have medics, scuba divers and all manner of safety personnel on the water every day. But oh wow, this is like watching dinghy racing, only in 75 foot speed machines doing over 40 knots. It’s just astonishing.
Another great angle for this video which will have the sailors amongst you animated is from the excellent Live, Sail, Die YouTube Channel and you can see below that Team New Zealand comes out of the gybe, gets a wee too much heel, dials away to try and save it and then goes down the mine. Looks like a full-on sailing incident to me – usually performed in a dinghy around a weather mark or out at the old wing marks when going reach to reach in a big breeze with your heart firmly in your mouth. Been there in a 420. A lot of fun. I’m sure the Sailing Anarchy forums will do a far better job than me in analysing it but once these boats go, boy do they go…and remember this is Team New Zealand, the best team on the planet. Hold that thought.
And in that context, I come to the nub of my article: Just. Look. How. Close. Ineos. Is! To my eye they are the ones applying the pressure here. They’re on starboard gybe and although it’s hard to tell from the camera angles, they look like they are very very close to ETNZ. Were the Kiwis going to make the cross? I’d love to hear Giles Scott’s take on that. Perhaps? But it’s a close call.
But the best news of all is that Ineos is taking the fight to the heavyweight champions of the world. They are right in this. This is the second leg and they are gybe for gybe with the All Blacks. It’s incredible and all those long hours on the water are paying handsome dividends. They look solid. In control. Motoring even. I tell you what – they are going to win races in the Prada Cup. Mark my words. They are going to take scalps against Magic and Prada in the breeze. This is all on. And it’s just fabulous to see as a Brit supporter.
Please don’t tell Mrs W but last night I ordered some Ineos team gear. Come on, I’m a fan. This is my sport. I love it. And as I’ve said all along, there is nobody who is willing that donkey on more than me. The team have done a fantastic job in the last three weeks and to even get in the same wind pattern as Team New Zealand is a remarkable achievement.
Where they can build from here is anybody’s guess but they just need to keep their heads down and work like fury. Tell the communications team to get smart. Please can they shield Ben a little bit? Send Grant Simmer or Giles Scott up on the podium to do the press conferences. Ben’s taken enough heat – and he was again all over the British media this weekend. Give the guy a break from media duties. Please.
American Magic sends Terry Hutchinson and Paul Goodison. Prada offers up Max Sirena and Checco. Mix it up a bit. Why not send Freddie Carr up there – he’s brilliant. Grant Simmer really needs to protect his star man from here on in. Ben doesn’t need to be the front-man. Take the spotlight off him and let him do his talking on the water because you know what? He isn’t talking – he’s shouting and it’s bloody brilliant to see.
Game on in the America’s Cup. All on.