Teacups and Handbags

Hardly earth shattering when you put it in context, but news nonetheless is the rather shady announcement that the Challenger of Record has quietly dropped the 15 minute delay rule which allowed teams suffering from gear fault the ability to ‘play a card’ as Ben Ainslie called it and halt racing before the starting gun. However you look at it, it’s just another classic AC piece of gamesmanship and you can’t help but see true colours emerging as the pressure comes on. Tiger tails are being tweaked.

© Sailing Energy / American Magic

Spin this from the perspective of the Challenger of Record (that’s Luna Rossa – or ‘Rohsa’ as the Americans and posh Brits like to say) and they’re just saying that the rule was a trial that elapsed at the end of the final race of the Round Robin and no-one had applied for it to continue into the semi-finals. End of story. Nothing to see here.

Spin this from the American Magic viewpoint, backed up by the almighty Defender Team New Zealand, and they will say that there was no consultation and seeing that they have paid the whopping entry fees, it would have been nice to have a seat at the table for a decision that affects their racing. You can see their point.

But at the end of the day, it’s a storm in a teacup. It’s handbags at dawn. It’s a salvo of shots whistling over the semi-finals on the eve of racing and it fills column inches. Will it affect racing? No. Not in the slightest. But it does serve to ramp up tensions and if you’re American Magic it feels like a small piece of the rug has just been pulled from underneath your feet.

It’s putting a tiny bit more pressure on the sailors and shore crew to get it right straight from the off but the ironic thing is, is that the rule was nicknamed “Jimmy’s Rule” and was brought in because he sat on the podium moaning that they were ‘flying blind’ in THAT last race against American Magic when their electronics crashed. The only displays they had onboard was a Timex Triathlon digital watch, which from experience, is more difficult to programme than a Space X rocket and has a nasty habit of switching itself off 2 minutes before you actually need it. If you’ve ever used one as a racing sailor, you’ll know what I mean.

© Sailing Energy / American Magic

It’s an excuse of sorts, and went some way to explaining why they tacked off early on the first beat miles from the boundary and then bounced up the middle of the course but does little to explain the missed windshifts, poor cant drops, slow turns and lack of pace against the Americans. Not buying it personally.

The straight fact is that Luna Rohsa, the Whining Moons, are a team under pressure and they are playing the playbook for all it’s worth. It’s probably all they can do now. Plonked in their situation, we would probably all do the same – especially with Patrizio ‘I-want-to-see-a-fair-sporting-contest-on-the-water’ Bertelli breathing down your neck.

Anything they can do to unsettle the opposition, they are doing. Whether that’s firing in protests a dime a dozen or a CNC against Ineos Team UK or now trying to hold a knife to American Magic’s throat, they’re doing it. The gamble here is that Magic, short of systems practice time and probably a little nervous sailing the rebuilt Patriot, will have an issue in the pre-start and the Italians would rather win ugly and uncontested on the back of a breakdown. Okay fair enough. We’ve all sailed against infuriating pedants like this. The only way to shut them up is go out and thump them.

Terry Hutchinson has been one-design and big boat sailing long enough to have seen it all. This is news but it’s hardly newsworthy. American Magic just have to stay in their lane and concentrate on the things they can control and that’s all before them. They had a few issues in yesterday’s practice – again most probably over-blown – as they went through their final checks. A little hobby-horsing and getting the new rudder cavitating most probably brought back the worst memories but they trained long into the evening and they’ll be as ready as they can be. They have to trust now in the inherent speed of Patriot and trust in arguably the better match-racer in Dean Barker with Paul Goodison whispering in his ear. It should, on paper, work.

© Sailing Energy / American Magic

Two races scheduled for tomorrow morning (UK time) – it promises to be a fascinating contest. The outright favourites at the start of the Round Robin series on the back foot against a charged-up Italian crew in the throes of desperation. You really can’t script it better. The America’s Cup keeps on serving up these wonderful battles. It’s a terrific competition, unique in the sporting world. As the most enthusiastic, committed, lifelong fan of the Cup, I just cannot wait.

See through the noise and enjoy it. Ignore the handbags and the storms in teacups. It’s absolutely game on and they are playing for keeps.

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7 thoughts on “Teacups and Handbags

  1. There’s sportsmanship, gamesmanship and the kind of behaviour from Luna Rossa that could sour a wonderful regatta. What example does it set to all the youngsters cheering on their team when it is announced that Ineos or Patriot have been disqualified on a technicality? “We prefer to win on the water” says Bruni. Then put aside petulant protests and put your money where your mouth is and no more peevish protests, please.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ha ha… I remember gamesmanship in 1992 in Dago. The night before the Italians (il Moro de Venezia) played against the Kiwis in the final LV Cup. I stayed in the same hotel as the Italian team and the alarms started to ring at 03.30 and did not stop for 15 min. Did it happen by accident or did some over enthusiastic Kiwi fanboy manipulated some of the smoke alarms? Maybe they lost the first race by 1:32 but I am sure we will never know though it had a bad taste to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Strictly speaking the 15 minute Jimmy’s
      Rule delay was if a boat had a data problem not, as I read it, a control issue. How did Ineos manage to get their 15 minutes? Did they claim they had a data problem?

      Like

  2. “”As the most enthusiastic, committed, lifelong fan of the Cup, I just cannot wait.”” … ha ha, ;-)) were have you been Magnus in 1983 in Newport during the last press conference when a broken Dennis had to be assisted down the stage. Love your posts and would like to compete in a friendly manner about who is the most “enthusiastic AC fanboy”. I am throwing in the “Berlin Challenge”, I had been committed to as a vice president and we had paid the entry fee for Perth. It just happened that your sponsor, the one who is helping out INEOS now, pulled out, by not seeing the far east being a viable market in the light of the eighties.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Strictly speaking the 15 minute Jimmy’s
    Rule delay was if a boat had a data problem not, as I read it, a control issue. How did Ineos manage to get their 15 minutes? Did they claim they had a data problem?

    Like

    1. No, the rule came about because of the issues Prada had, not solely if those issues arose again.

      It gave you 15min to fix whatever it was.

      (actually there was then a further 15min extension that could be granted if the problem was with the race software broadcast)

      Either way, ineos using it was entirely legal

      Prada removing it was also legal, the way they did it though was a dick move

      Like

  4. John JohnO,
    Weather Forecast for today is 16-20 Knots ouf of the Southwest per AC Website.

    If Magic wins two Races today I call it!

    Liked by 1 person

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