‘Form is temporary. Class is permanent.’ And class has been the hallmark of the American Magic team from the opening of this America’s Cup cycle with a tone set from the top by Terry Hutchinson, permeating down through the team and coursing through every team members’ vein. At the splashdown re-launch of Patriot yesterday, once again the team with fire in its belly and a switchblade in its pocket, didn’t disappoint with a classy Band-Aid decal thanking the Kiwis, Brits and Italians for their help in achieving the impossible. Utterly brilliant.
But oh wow, the relaunch was even better than we could have hoped for with Patriot showing off its finest foil weaponry. Following down the catwalk runway numbers of Team New Zealand’s latest waif-like creations, American Magic’s new wings are Cindy Crawford in-her-heyday skinny with shiny aero tips. The bulb looks like it has spent many a long hour being debated in the CFD programme with a sculptured run off that Michelangelo would be proud of whilst the lower arms of the Foil Cant System, attaching these masterpieces have the dilets and bumps of a cage fighter after three rounds with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
This is, as we expected and hoped for, an upgraded Patriot ready to lay it all down in the white-hot crucible of the Hauraki Gulf this weekend. And she looks magnificent. They have brought a gun to a knife fight here and all the momentum looks like it’s with the Americans. If they pull this off, and get past the Italians, then my goodness this will be one hell of a story – in fact THE story of the America’s Cup.
And then came the visuals and videos of Patriot actually sailing and you’d have to be a tough guy not to have a lump in your throat. The first flight was cautious, towed up on the foils as the crew went through the systems. To the naked eye it looked mighty and pretty quickly the Americans were right back into it. And was that a new jib? Certainly the leeward runner looked slack – as you’d expect – but I’m pretty sure we’re not seeing the full sail armoury just yet. Friday will be so interesting on so many levels.
Patriot has risen from the depths of despair. Great job team.
Meanwhile, plunging new depths of cattiness are the Italians. I personally just give up with this team and frankly would like to see the back of them. The latest missive is a rambling diatribe by Max Sirena in La Stampa newspaper where he lays his aim at not only the “Anglo-Saxon” media (it’s okay Max we can take it) for calling Luna Rossa the ‘Waning Moon’ (not me, but good one whoever wrote that) but also laying into Ineos Team UK for throwing more money at this Cup than them. It’s poor excuses and the other end of the class scale from American Magic.
So whilst we will now be mixing up our Luna Rossa’s from our Luna Calante’s in the Anglo-Saxon media, I’ll throw a new moniker to this rapidly disintegrating team – the Whining Moons. Surely Max Sirena has been around the block long enough to realise that these kinds of disastrous communications simply paint his team into a corner? And it’s a corner that they really don’t want to be in. They shouldn’t be in there.
But right from the start of this competition they’ve been on the attack in the fawning, desperate Italian media quick to claim superiority in boat handling and the first to lodge protests. On the water they’ve been quick in a straight line but off the pace in turns with poor communication between Bruni and Spithill (just listen to the panicked comms from Bruni on that final gybe against Ineos before the cross) and off the water they’ve been a tough team to love. I don’t suspect anything will change. If they go any further – and there’s every reason to suspect that they could pull this round – things have the potential to get even uglier. I’m not sure anyone wants to see that other than a biased home media.
And Jimmy Spithill looks like he’s more concerned at keeping his Red Bull Athlete status than being dedicated to the cause here. The whiff of sickly sugar, taurine, glucuronolactone and caffeine would be a welcome absence from the Prada Cup Final podium if I’m absolutely honest. Too obvious by far.
So, we have our typical hero vs villain match up. The stage is set. Patriot is back. Prada is throwing tantrums. The New York slugger versus the Precious Prada. It’s a tantalising prospect and it could well go down to the wire. Patriot has new boots. Prada has it all to prove. I can’t call it.
But I know who I want to win.
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