“Be brave, be bold… It’s time for the colonials to conquer the old world. Take the Cup on tour, I say.” These are the words of New Zealand’s most prominent Sports Editor, Duncan Johnstone of Stuff, one of the leading voices in the America’s Cup and one of the key opinion formers in the land of the long white cloud. It’s the zeitgeist of the nation and the sailors right now. He’s absolutely right. Spot-on. Do or die time.
And with bright minds like Johnstone leading the way, the mood music is shifting squarely towards an interim regatta in the UK with the argument laid clearly before the Kiwi public that; “Getting a meaningful event to form an interlude is gold, especially to Team New Zealand. The biggest problem they regularly face at exactly these post-regatta moments is one of survival. A deed of gift challenge offers them the chance of bridging finance, with the extravaganza in Britain an easy sell for someone with the door-knocking skills of Grant Dalton. Without knowing the details of any other juicy offers moving forward, this looks like an opportunity that is gift-wrapped.”
In a nutshell that’s it. And with the news yesterday, as predicted here, that Jim Ratcliffe would be absolutely willing to bring the Cup back to Auckland in 2024, win, lose or draw, let’s just get it on. The New Zealand government can breathe a huge sigh of relief and have surety over the future event. The Kiwi public can rest assured that Team New Zealand won’t lose the Cup on foreign soil (or anywhere for that matter) and they can cheer on their heroes at a home event that hopefully the world can come to and swell the coffers as a thank you for a brilliant event this time.
Now the tricky question is whether this is a one-off-one-on-one Match or a multi-Challenger event. My preference would be to say to Luna Rossa, Magic and whoever else is lining up (Larry? Ernesto?): “Come to Cowes!” We’ll move heaven and earth to host you. It will be the best regatta the Cup has ever seen and the more the merrier. What would be absolutely dynamite is if the rules stated that 2021 boats must be used in 2022. No new builds. You can only build a new boat for 2024. Okay that might exclude the Gazillionaires sitting in Switzerland and San Francisco but surely a deal could be struck to sell one of the current teams’ second boats if they are desperate to join?
Done deal…pack the donkeys up and ship them to the UK and hope that the Ever Given tanker has been removed from the Suez Canal. Or better still – get an Antonov and fly the beasts over here – Southampton airport is a ghost town at the moment. No problems whatsoever with Air Traffic Control…
What a magnificent event this is going to be. It always was the only story left in the America’s Cup – coming back to the UK – and although it would be super-nice if it was actually won by a British syndicate (I’ve been wishing that all my life), this is the next best thing. Can you imagine Luna Rossa, Magic, Ineos, Te Rehutai, Alinghi and Oracle banging around the Solent and doing showpiece races around the Isle of Wight? I can. It would capture the world’s attention. This is exactly what the Cup needs and where’s the downside? The Cup jamboree of all jamborees. Forget ’87. Forget ’13. We’ve already forgotten Bermuda. This is it. This is the real deal.
And with the pendulum swinging in popular opinion in New Zealand, the only sticking point is the 90 day consultation with the Government. Even a blind man can see where that one is going. Why not call it off? Do the government a massive favour and save the politicians squirms and excuses by Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron saying: “We’re going. We’ll be back. See you in 2024.” Everyone would be mightily relieved that the can is kicked down the road and can walk away happy. Stringing this out to the end of the 90 days leaves room for debate and conjecture. Certainty gives closure and an ordered pathway ahead.
Do the deal. And see you in Cowes…