Well, Happy Anniversary to Emirates Team New Zealand who celebrated one year on from their utterly brilliant win over Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the Match exactly this time last year with an email missive this morning that reflected but pointed firmly to the future. “The venue is getting there… it’s the next cab off the rank,” opined Kevin Shoebridge rather elegantly and I have to say, whenever I deal with the team, they’re cool as the coolest cucumbers over the venue (or venues…did I say that?) and you get the very strong impression that all is under control. I’d expect nothing less from the stand-out franchise in our sport.

©AC36 / Studio Borlenghi

A year has passed and progress has been made on many fronts. The Protocol has been signed and the nationality clause enacted as planned. From Team New Zealand’s standpoint that was a mighty protective barrier to cast around the talent and eventually forced the hands of Burling & Tuke who realised that their time at the top is limited and that the grass isn’t greener.

Into the ETNZ fold came Nathan Outteridge, and that’s about as good as it gets in my book – why he sat on the sidelines in the last Cup is an absolute travesty that I still can’t get to the bottom of. Too good.

But Grant Dalton has snapped him up and instilled that age old rugby tactic of never letting anyone think they’re safe and if Pete’s performance starts slipping, as he’s prone to do, then he’ll be benched in an eye-blink. Rotation is good for competition.

©AC36 / Studio Borlenghi

The peerless Glenn Ashby is back, so long as he doesn’t stack that land speed record thing, so too the affable Finn duo of Josh Junior and Andy Maloney who are back onboard to provide their calming personas and all-out grunt. From a sailing team perspective, ETNZ are mighty and then you look at the design and build teams and wonder how on earth they are going to get beaten. When the cash comes through the money matrix, as I’m told it is, ETNZ will be off to the races – the team is already 70 strong with clear definition of roles and responsibilities. It’s a heck of a defence they’re mounting already.

And if you believe me, and others, that it’s ‘people’ that win the America’s Cup well sorry to tell the rest of the challengers but they’ve got Everest with K2 to climb if they want to win this thing and rip it from the clutches of the Kiwis, wherever in the world the event takes place.

We can opine about home advantage all we like, and I think there’s a truth in there, but I can sense an enormous amount of confidence building in ETNZ at the moment, enough confidence to take it anywhere and take on anyone.

©AC36 / Studio Borlenghi

In retrospect, seeing as the team are in reflective mode today, it’s a fact that we never got to see anywhere near the true potential of Te Rehutai in the Match. Largely that regatta series was run in lighter airs that favoured the lead boat owing to the dirty air vortices that could be inflicted on the trailing boat.

But even when behind in sub-optimal conditions for the Kiwis, they never looked dead beat. Once they sorted Blair and Pete out on the roll-tacking and started sailing the boat properly, they had the ability to always stay in contention enough to strike. Once ahead they were off. But we can only imagine and presume what the deltas would have been had we seen that boat in the upper wind ranges. It would have been slaughter on the water. 8-0 at a canter – and everyone knows that.

©AC36 / Studio Borlenghi

And that’s the worrying thing for the challengers in this cycle. Just how fast were Team New Zealand? When you just don’t know the potential gap, it’s hard to bridge. Most observers think they were a good 6-9 months ahead in development terms and that translates to a given percentage on the water. It could be more.

With the team clearly not stopping, and getting precisely what they wanted out of the new Protocol, they could be over the horizon already. Yes Ineos will throw the kitchen sink at them in terms of design, build and crew. Alinghi will do the same from a different base and a different rationale. The Italians literally haven’t stopped and will be closer, the Americans could be dark horses if they sign that Microsoft deal but will any come up with the killer design on one boat and one boat only, that leap-frogs the Kiwis? I highly doubt it.

©AC36 / Studio Borlenghi

The venue (s) announcement is/are coming in short order. The next cab off the rank is inching towards the front of the queue and it promises to be a magical ride. Will it be straw donkeys and kiss-me-quick hats on the Costa del Arabia? That’s where the smart money is today but with this team, who knows? Information is scarcer than an Oligarch in Monaco but the stage is set for a thrilling announcement on or before the 31st March.

My money’s on it being a blockbuster. I’m in for the ride. I expect you are too. Taxi…

3 thoughts on “Taxi…!

  1. Woah! That year went by quick!

    So, in the immortal words of the British commentator from the official feed one year ago: “It’s St. Patrick’s Day! Fiddly Dee Potatoes!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I imagine on the the17th March 2021 the Kiwis were at least one and a half incarnations ahead of the opposition.

    Now they are probably three incarnations ahead as the challengers try and beat the 3 generations old Te Rehutai.

    My guess is the new defender will be called Te Waka Rererangi.


  3. I’m with the Kiwi’s all the way. Home field advantage may be the rule with American football, baseball and basketball, but you have to win it off home turf to gain home turf. The Kiwis can read the wind wherever they are, their design team has engineered a fast boat and the family spirit and team unity are unequalled in the sport. The communal nature, the Kiwi culture and communication among the members of the crew on and off shore is a big part of their continuing success.

    Money can’t buy this, it is the dollars that are needed for continued research and development, needed to design and build the fastest boat. After all, the fastest boat always wins!

    The Kiwi brand is that of a “Never give up, never give in underdog!” That is what makes them successful!

    That is the motto of their leader, Grant Dalton!
    Dalton is now engaged in finding the money and the best venue for “his guys” and he will be announcing it by the end of the month. Dalton will get his job done!


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