The fastest boat. The best sailors. Which team will it be?
Wednesday’s race (or should I say Winds-day’s?) might not happen, because the winds are forecast to be too strong. But let’s pretend it will happen. We all know what that means.
There will be a winner. There will be no second – there never is, in an America’s Cup.
Airline flights can - finally - be ticketed and boarded. Hotel rooms can be cleaned. The St Francis Yacht Club Big Boat Series might have a place to sail, after all. (You mean, there is another sailboat race? One that’s been going on how many decades? Oh, yeah. We heard of that. I think.)
Jimmy Spithill we be lionized for his bravado of a week ago, when everyone blew him off as a crank.
Dean Barker – well, maybe somebody will let him skipper a boat again. I hear Alinghi might be looking. Or Korea. (Can you imagine what it will be like to walk the streets of New Zealand for the crew after this - if they lose? Can you imagine what it will be like - if they win?)
Nobody thought these races would amount to much. The Louis Vuitton races were - frankly - a joke. The Prada vs Artemis thing, a yawn. And that’s when there as was a race with two boats. As if. And for the first few America’s Cup races, it looked like more of the same. ENTZ was just walking over Oracle. Especially upwind.
Then Oracle got its game on. Waaaaaaay on. Spithill says they got energized by the underdog status they achieved for themselves. (Hey, Jim, you might want to find an easier way to motivate the team, ya know...) Whatever it is, the change to the boat, the change to crew, the freakish good luck with the weather gods, or just pure gut-it-out determination, it’s made a difference.
The Cup-Back is now part of Cup Lore. Forever. Holy smokes, if Oracle pulls this off, no one on the Team will need to buy a drink for the next two years. Shore Crew included. In fact., shore crew might rate three years.
Spithill will achieve Legend status. Dennis Connor, Ted Turner, Mike Vanderbilt, Sir Russell, move on over and make room.
And if Barker takes the Cup tomorrow (or, whenever) he goes to New Zealand as The Guy That Almost Lost It.
Dean lost his mojo. If ETNZ had cleaned up, when it c/should have, it’d be a different story. Even a win tomorrow, is “just” a save. A win by Oracle is a “MIRACLE.” What a place to be: “Congratulations, you didn’t lose the America’s Cup.” Ouch.
And, has this “dual to the death” been good for SF? For AC34? For racing? Oh, please. Do you really need to ask?
The Cup-Back is now a “world wide sport story.” More people will watch BECAUSE it is a “do or die” situation. NBC will - finally - get to air something other than a Nespresso commercial. (And then the race might get bumped to Thursday - because of wind - and NBC can sell it all again. Suddenly, those “wind delays” are a “good thing”? Go figure.)
I can hardly wait to see what happens. I’ll be sitting in court, listening with half an ear to a witness being examined, with my phone open to the America’s Cup website, scanning for txt messages, or a Twitter feed. Good Lord, I hope the judge is a sailing fan.
And I can’t help but wonder what time 1315 hrs Pacific Daylight Savings Time is in New Zealand. The entire country will be up and watching tv. The ENTIRE country. (Can you imagine passing a tax in the USA to fund a sailboat race? Never. Gods I love New Zealand. I wonder what the immigration laws are like?) This week, I read 25% of the population was watching. Now, only the dead won’t be. Again, can you imagine the pressure on the ETNZ Team? Wow. If Grant Dalton doesn’t have a heart attack from grinding, the stress might finally do him in.
I had someone from Oracle’s ground crew ask me this week who I was rooting for. I said “the best team.” He snickered. It’s a pansy-ass answer, he all but said. But, it’s a real one. Both these crews - and shore side teammates, are extraordinary. In the true sense of that word. What they have achieved, in the time they had to achieve it, is truly – phenomenal. And all in the name of sport - of FUN. It’s impossible to root for one or the other. They have both done everything needed to win.
They are both: the best of sailors; on the fastest of boats. And, for the past weeks, these very long, drawn out, excruciating, exciting, frustrating, bewildering, wonderful, weeks, we’ve gotten to watch them in all their glory. As a fellow sailor (and oh, so, amateur a racer), I can only watch in awe.
Ain’t life gand?