Don’t tell me I got you again with the headline? Such is the weight of expectation and sheer enthusiasm for the America’s Cup going to Italy that, understandably, it’s hard to see anything else going on in the sailing world. In effect, Luna Rossa has stopped the world. The Red Moon is rising and has cast a fabulous glow on the yachting landscape but ‘sono molto dispiaciuto’ to my Italian friends ‘dovrae aspettare’ – you will have to wait for the real headline – this one is about Bruno Prada and Mateusz Kusznierewicz defending their title at the 94th Bacardi Cup Invitational.
Congratulations to Mateusz and Bruno who made it look easy ahead of an all-star Star fleet out on the beautiful crystal waters of Miami’s Biscayne Bay. After my post a few days ago, Mateusz made contact with me directly to thank me for covering the Bacardi Cup and he’s such a statesman in the sport that it would be right that when he hangs up his sailing boots, he takes up a position of real meaning in the governing body – future World Sailing President? We could do an awful lot worse. Diplomacy personified he commented: “It was not easy to get to the United States for Bruno from Brazil and me from Poland, but we made it and we experienced such nice sailing conditions, such nice hospitality. Of course we are so happy to win the 94th edition of the Bacardi Cup, it is a great privilege. I just want to say that once you try Bacardi, you want it more and this is why I think we performed so well.”
And Mr Prada himself had it about right, with the Brazilian saying after the event: “Much bigger than our victory was the courage of the Bacardi team to run the Bacardi Cup. It was a super tough year last year and to 2021 and we would like to congratulate all the Bacardi team to make it happen.” Top sailors. Proper people. Congratulations on winning one of the Blue Riband events of yachting. Some times the good guys do come first.
Meanwhile in the Cup, the winners today were the Kiwi public who took full advantage of the late summer sun to come out and show their support for this spectacular regatta. Every vantage point was filled to capacity shoreside whilst on the water, every conceivable waterborne craft was commandeered to form a record fleet to ever watch the America’s Cup. It was just joyous to watch a nation coming to a standstill and coming together around the event and shows just what it means and how close to their hearts they hold the Cup. Oh to be in New Zealand.
The kids had faces painted in their team colours, the beers were flowing, everyone was opting for a swim and there were some crazy but impressive dives and leaps off the craft lining the racecourse. Great to see. What fun. Everyone, but everyone was willing Iain Murray and his army of outstanding volunteers to find some breeze but, as is the way with sailing, the one thing you can’t guarantee is the conditions and despite trying all afternoon, not even our terrific Race Director could conjure up the wind Gods to serve any consistency. A great shame for the thousands who made the effort and who deserved to see these two top teams duking it out but that’s our sport, on occasion.
We’ll be back tomorrow. Three-all. The regatta starts tomorrow – to use the words of Team New Zealand’s Glenn Ashby – and it’s looking like a cracker with the wind playing ball and gusts up to 15 knots predicted. After Race 6 with the Kiwis laying down some serious speed, it’s hard to predict anything other than a Kiwi win but Luna Rossa keep on defying the odds and have the scoreboard ticking over. Sport at the highest level should be about competition and boy, do we have a competition.
Whoever wins will be a worthy victor and the Cup has a bright future. And I even heard Max Sirena in the opening press conference praising the AC75’s and saying that he hoped whoever won, retains the class. Phew – I had visions (or was it a nightmare?) of a high-tech, highly expensive classics regatta in the Mediterranean with spinnakers, crew-members lugging sails, peels, pole gybes and tacking duels. Leave that to us weekend warriors and carry on foiling…some of us are so tempted by what we’ve seen in the America’s Cup that Waszps are on order to experience the sheer thrill of foiling. That’s the America’s Cup effect and this event is shaping sailing for generations to come.
Don’t go backwards when you’ve gone so far forwards.