In America’s Cup land, two plus two very often equals five and we all know that’s the wrong answer but into the void of the venue discussion, and with a virtual press black-out as Team New Zealand squares the circle slowly or ‘despacito’ behind closed doors, speculation is rife. The latest to reach us is the photographic evidence that Matteo de Nora met with representatives of the Andalusian capital Malaga at the Dubai Expo where pretty much the whole world of movers and shakers is in attendance. It could mean nothing. It could be everything. But what’s very clear is that Malaga is deadly serious about wanting the event.
The irony of meeting in Dubai should not be lost on us. If the money for Team New Zealand is to be found anywhere, the Middle East is the most likely ultimate source. It always was. How the cash is funnelled is largely irrelevant – a trade deal, direct sponsorship, preferred terms on the black stuff, an investment vehicle. Perhaps a combination of everything.
Quite frankly, who cares? But that cash is highly unlikely to be coming from public coffers in any great quantity. These are politicians after all and they’re not stupid. Spain would be a great venue with its temperate climate and fabulous sailing conditions plus its obvious geographical location – handy for the European teams, not bad for the Americans, and apologies to the Kiwis but you’ll have to burn the midnight oil to see your team thumping the fleet. Ho Hum. Collateral damage in the grander scheme of things.
The clock is ticking down to the end of March but the deal could be closer than we think. Certainly Team New Zealand are ice cool. There’s no panic and I get a sense that they would like the deal done quickly in order to move on. The building blocks are all in place. The AC40’s are coming along nicely. The Amazon TV deal is lined up. The joint recon programme will kick into life in short order and we’ve all got a feast in store that Alain Ducasse would be proud of.
Unlike some, I have no doubt whatsoever that Grant Dalton will strike the deal of his life. The money will be found and AC37 will be spectacular. We could even see another team coming into the fold with a long-term vision. The rumour of a Spanish entry won’t die. The more the merrier in my book and a Cup in Europe in fabulous conditions could well tip the investment scales and bring that final one to the party. We shall see.
It was also rather real to see the first spy shot of Team New Zealand’s Boat 1, Te Aihe, emerge from the shed in a new dark blue livery. All it needs now is the Alinghi Red Bull Racing decals to be applied and they’ll be on the water in the summer when the training window opens.
Lake Geneva or Malaga? That’s the call now for the uber Swiss team that are well advanced in their preparations and firing on all cylinders as is the mark of Ernesto Bertarelli. A tighter team you won’t find in this Cup. The Alinghi family are doing it their way with a super hi-tec approach, plugging into every facet of Red Bull’s facilities. It’s going to be fascinating to see what emerges from the pen of Marcelo Botin this time. Will it be a step on from the extreme scalpel of Patriot or down the soap-dish lines of Luna Rossa with more concentration on the aero down low?
And to that end, the cyclors are back if you read between the lines on the sailor’s social media feeds. Every grinder worth his salt now has a £10,000 super-bike and they’re hitting the hills with alarming frequency during this off-season. Want a job with an AC team – on yer bike lads. Every watt of power is going to be required to pump that oil pressure and conditions will be harsher than a Roman Longboat – in other times, the skippers would have whips – now there’s an idea…
With a deal in the air as the grown-ups chat in Dubai, the Cup is two minutes to midnight on exploding into view. It’s been a torturous process hampered by the pandemic but it’s getting there. Malaga is in pole position to welcome the world and throw the mother of all parties in 2024…but then again two plus two may well not be the answer we expected.
Hurry up and wait. Despacito.