Oh to be a fly on the wall tonight in the bar at 37 West 44th Street. Double brandies all round as the venerable members of America’s finest yachting institution toast the arrival of the biggest name in sailing to the American Magic Team as Tom Slingsby is finally confirmed on the roster. It’s a brilliant signing and as shots in the arm go, this is even more firepower to this resurgent team that is just doing everything right at the moment and hasn’t put a foot wrong since that horror crash against Luna Rossa back in the day.
The doors this now opens in America’s boardrooms is not to be understated. Getting Tom’s signature is a very big deal. It’s been rumoured. It’s been whispered. It’s been confirmed and denied but finally the deal is done and can you think of a better afterguard than Slingsby in the starboard hull and Goodison on port?
You’ll get the red-mist Aussie aggression in the starting-box, come off the line to windward and by the first peel-off tack you’ve got the fastest foiling driver at the peak of his game to capitalise, settle everyone down and hit the starboard boundary in the box-seat. Then it’s back to Slingers. As weaponry goes, that’s heavy metal.
This next America’s Cup could well come down to sailing ability over design, such is the way with second generation boats and the general sharing of data and personnel since Auckland. If so, American Magic’s odds have just shortened dramatically. This is the team to watch as American sailing comes back to the fore all round. Oh and what’s that phrase about ‘sleeping giants having a habit of waking up’ – this is terrific news for the country, the team, the competitiveness of AC37 and the whole Cup game. Brilliant to have the true pin-up boy of the foiling generation back where he rightfully belongs.
And for Tom himself, this is a significant transfer. It’s like Messi signing for Chelsea or Max Verstappen going to Ferrari. The word on the street was that he thought long and hard about joining Magic whilst overblown rumours of massive salary demands clouded negotiations. It was all a sum of nothing as the simple fact arose that the music was stopping and there was only one chair left. Slingers absolutely had to sign for this Cup cycle for, if nothing else, fear of missing the zeitgeist. You can be quickly forgotten in the Great Game. You have to be there at AC37…
For Terry Hutchinson and Hap Fauth, the news was possibly more of a relief than anything else. They’ve been courting Tom for what seems like a long while now and with his signature confirmed the team’s commercial arms can really get into gear. Those Microsoft rumours are still swirling and if that happens with all the fiscal and Azure cloud computing power on demand, you’ve got to start looking at Magic as being serious contenders this cycle. The Americans are very, very good at this game. History tells you that.
But the rumours that the New York Yacht Club bar now has a boxing kangaroo flag, Foster’s on tap and Penfolds as the only wine available are, sadly, just rumours. But bring the Cup back, bolt it to that table and all bets are off.
Great to have Tom Slingsby right in the heart of AC37. Fabulous news.