Kiwi Enthalpy

If like me, chemistry lessons at school were effectively an hour of trying to blow the laboratory up, then enthalpy of vaporisation means little. You and I were busy, easily distracted and must try harder but as they say in documentaries, now for the science part: ‘Enthalpy, is a property of a thermodynamic system, as the sum of the system’s internal energy and the product of its pressure and volume.’

Beats me. It’s heat evaporation in fancy terms. But seems apt in relation to the America’s Cup as heat has evaporated from the system after a turgid couple of weeks and it’s all eyes down for the chess game on December 9th at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron or the ‘Squaddie’ as a friendly Kiwi member rather wonderfully calls it.

©ACE / Carlo Borlenghi

The maximum attack strategy from Team New Zealand seems to have (wisely) abated for now as the argument is pretty clear. Characters don’t really need to be assassinated. The binary argument between hosting in Auckland or overseas, emotive as it sounds, is in the hands of bright people at the Squaddie who know a Christmas turkey when they see it. The right decision, the sporting decision, will be taken and I fully expect a rallying around of both the team and the club to get the best outcome that will give every possible chance of ultimate victory.

When you’ve got in your ranks not only an out and out winner leading the club’s AC team but also a design group that’s probably half a generation ahead (at the very least), why would you squander that on a fanciful, romantic idiom of insisting the most expensive game be held in a town that can’t afford it? In a stroke you scupper the defence’s ability to defend and maim the beast into submission – and all for what?

©ACE / Carlo Borlenghi

I contest that the wrong decision is to put stipulations onto Team New Zealand that would hamstrung their ability to win. I can’t see the brighter members of the Squaddie voting for that. What I foretell is some wise-heads in the room, you know the quiet ones that have seen this all before and can sense danger at a mile off, purposely putting the whole debate to bed with laser-like observations to ultimately support their team and club. It will happen.

And what’s more, throw the new variant of the virus into the mix plus the uncertainty around further mutations and those wise heads will be willing the Cup from Kiwi shores – have it in Cork, not on our plate, thank you very much. Phew. And good luck, we’ll be cheering you on every step of the way.

©ACE / Carlo Borlenghi

But bring it back to the folding stuff and it’s clear there’s no magic money tree waiting to be shaken in the land of the long white cloud. Grant Dalton has wrung that orchard dry. The government aren’t riding to the rescue at the 11th hour either and the Challenger of Record isn’t going to be passing brown envelopes under the table as is often opined. The Kiwi Home Defence offer is a lovely thought – and Mark Dunphy should be politely thanked – but it doesn’t cut the mustard at the top table of the America’s Cup. It’s the sticking-plaster solution wrapped in jingoism and vanity when what’s required is major surgery at a private overseas clinic.

Team New Zealand can’t and shouldn’t be operating on financial fumes. If the membership forces its hand then you can almost see the car crash in slow motion before you. An implosion amidst resignations could quite possibly, and very likely, leave Team New Zealand in ashes. What would be squandered alongside chance would be hope and the Last Post of Kiwi involvement at the very apex of the apex would be sounded. It’s a crucial decision before the membership and the trotted out nonsense of ‘Auckland or nothing’ has a horrible downside. The ‘nothing’ option is very real but rarely debated. It’s horrific. The crash scene would be ugly.

©ACE / Carlo Borlenghi

My observation from afar is that, mis-steps and slanging matches aside, behind the scenes things are progressing quite orderly. Hosting Venue Agreements are a nightmare to nail down in stone but are in train and getting to the point where fancy videos are being created, the social media is primed and communications debriefs are happening. The messages are being crafted and the ‘tees and eyes’ are being crossed and dotted. This whole Squaddie debate is a giant distraction as are the spurious defamation cases whirling around. My sense is that we are far closer to AC37 being all systems go than the anti-stall button being depressed.

And the entries open tomorrow. Will we see a flood? Will the uber-cool underdogs American Magic be filing their entry and slapping down the cash? I do hope so – the America’s Cup with an American team involved brings glamour, history, intrigue and dynamite competition.

And in American Magic we have a team that flies the Stars and Stripes so high and so proud that they would start as the people’s favourite even before the first gun has fired. Terry Hutchinson has been clear in his support of the direction of the Cup and he’s a fabulous ambassador for promoting the event. The big question is which yacht club flag they compete under – I know some who know and aren’t saying – but whoever it is, gets one heck of a team to rally around.

©COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

And what of the others? Well Luna Rossa have been quiet as Patrizio concentrates on handing the reigns of Prada over to his son Lorenzo in three years time but you’ve got to think that another tilt at the Cup is on the cards. I mean you can’t take it with you, can you? What’s he got to lose? The cost of entry is chump change from his wife’s handbag especially after the recent stock run of the family business and having the style and romance of the Italians back in the game would turbo-charge the rhetoric and turn up the volume on the event. This scuttling away into a void of Milanese silence is not the Italian way. Come on back, give us all hell and bring Ernesto and the Red Bull gang along too. You heard that here first.

©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

The tinder box could be about to explode into life. It should be about to explode into life. Let’s hope the RNZYS members see what’s before them, make the right decisions, rally to the cause and settle back for one of the great Cup runs to get going with Team New Zealand right at the angry, competitive heart of the proceedings.

‘Nothing’ is the loser’s way out.

5 thoughts on “Kiwi Enthalpy

  1. I don’t know if the variant is really an argument for hosting abroad— AC36 showed the viability of hosting a stripped-down event in Auckland while everyone ELSE was locked down.


  2. The Cup is lost on me, and has been since they raced with a fixed wing as a main. There is no perceivable tech transfer to sailors like me, who does the occasional 15 NM destination race but otherwise cruises as a live aboard each summer. Everything is upside down with the AC, including a capsized boat or two, when the defender plays it’s home game thousands of miles away from its home port. This isn’t the first time either. Ellison and Coutts successfully defended in San Francisco, possibly the best venue in the USA, only to leave for Bermuda where they lost to a team powered by bicycles. I’ve lost interest. And I’m not alone. The AC will never be NASCAR, try as it might with boats that are on the edge of fantastic crashes. Real sailors want to see spin sets with gybes and the occasional hourglass. Build an audience by educating the public to the skill required to effectively race a boat that they can relate to. Golf did it that way, with the help of Tiger Woods. Maybe his 325 yard drives are out of reach for most, but we can all hit the perfect shot from 150 yards now and then. Who does the AC have who can do the same?


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