As the party gets started in Auckland New Zealand, Matthew Sheahan reports on the last day of racing in the 36th America’s Cup
In the six America’s Cup regattas that I’ve now be present at and covered it’s never been daylight when I’ve written the final race piece. Today is no different.
As the celebrations kick off, no matter how neutral you may be, it’s the hardest night of the gig to write a piece with the noise, booze and bustle going on all around.
It’s fantastic and of course an absolute privilege to be here to witness it in any Cup cycle, let alone in these challenging times. We might have been here for four months, but that fact is not lost on anyone.
Today was an emotional day for all. The pressure of not knowing whether this one is the day when aspirations are realised and dreams crushed is as real for those ashore as it is for the teams afloat. And when the day could be defined by one race, the pressure raises exponentially.
Then add some uncertainty over whether the weather will play ball and everyone gets the jitters. There’s no mistaking it as the banter becomes more frantic wherever you are.
But what a race today. What a way for the Kiwis to finally stamp their authority onto the Cup.
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This time they delivered a superb, confident start, set off for the side of the course they had won, took no risks in letting the Italians get the upper hand before lighting the blue touch paper and setting off like a rocket, leg by leg.
Ironically such a powerful performance will have helped the Italians to come to terms with their loss. For 25 of the 36 Cup matches the loser has failed to get a single point on the board allowing them time to get used to the idea that they would not be holding the Auld Mug above their heads.
Only six have scored one point and now it is only 5 that have scored more than 1 race win.
So with Luna Rossa Prada putting three wins to their name, for a few moments their Cup dream looked like a possibility.
In particular, the previous day they had sailed an immaculate race in a slower boat and made one mistake with just over a leg to go, simple as that.
But despite looking the business and doing complete justice to Italian chic, their boat was slower, less potent and ultimately unable to hold back a machine that many reckon still has more to give.
And as the Kiwis got their heads around how to handle their boat against live opponents rather than the chase boat they had been dancing with for the previous two months, they had found the final piece of the puzzle – Dealing with an opponent.
They didn’t need to start that well so long as they could find a passing lane, which is what they did time and again.
But in the final race of the 36th America’s Cup they delivered a polished performance.
So for now, as the headaches subside from last night’s party under the boat and in the yard that has had its doors firmly locked to the outside world, we know that the America’s Cup remains with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
There’s going to be more news on its way shortly I’m sure when we get confirmation of what we expect will be an announcement about the UK’s Royal Yacht Squadron being the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup.
But for now, that’s a wrap on the Cup.
Thanks for all of your support, it’s been great fun both producing the content and getting all your kind feedback.
I’m now available for hire for the next gig!
You can read all of Matthew Sheahan’s America’s Cup reports on his website: planetsail.org.