I’ve had a brief exchange of comments following my last full post on the Cup with a fellow named Alex D who complains he is bored by this America’s Cup and cites the lack of sail-handling as one reason for this. True enough, there are no sail changes mid-race in this new species of Cup competition, and I’ll admit I sort of miss that, too. But it’s not true that sail-handling is irrelevant, as Team New Zealand demonstrated in dramatic fashion on Saturday when they mishandled their wing during a tack and almost capsized their boat. Alex D: Pls. skip to 28:30 in the video above and describe below how boring it is.
Oracle has improved dramatically since dropping two races on Thursday (you can see that viddy, if you like, at the end of my Newport boat show post). In Saturday’s race, for the first time, they kept up with the Kiwis going to windward and were in a position to take the lead and the race when the Kiwis screwed up.
Even better, in Sunday’s first race they demonstrated superior speed upwind in their wire-to-wire victory over the Kiwis. They did the same in the second race and took the lead on the windward leg, only to lose it again on the last downwind leg when they had to duck the Kiwis in a crossing situation.
Some people will tell you this America’s Cup is boring no matter what happens (just like some people will disagree with President Obama no matter what he says and does), but there’s no getting around the fact that we’ve seen more lead changes and tactical intensity in this series than in any other AC series in history. This is sailboat match racing on steroids, and if you watch it with an open mind, without prejudice, you can’t help but enjoy it.
Had the series started on Saturday, I’d be telling you these boats and teams were evenly matched. Hell, I might even tell you I liked Oracle better. Unfortunately, what is now a 7-1 deficit still seems insurmountable, though Oracle is obviously determined to go down fighting.
We should acknowledge, too, that Stan Honey has done a fantastic job with the TV graphics. For more background on that, check this link here.
And for those who truly do miss the days when watching sailboat racing was like watching grass grow, I suggest you tap into this live video feed of the Costa Concordia salvage job, which is underway in Italy as I type this.
Nice one. I’ve been following the races since Day 1, when Mia and I watched with a Kiwi friend of ours in Stockholm. It’s been riveting to say the least. Seeing that near-capsize live without warning was incredible! I felt horrible though as it was happening, thinking ‘oh no, this close racing is going to end now’, figuring the Kiwis must have at least broken something – then they came back and were winning Race 2 that day!
You mention ‘match racing on steroids’ – Gary Jobson said the same thing during the broadcast yesterday, and I couldn’t help but think that’s a stupid thing to say in this day and age in the sporting world. It almost felt like Jobson realized that when he said it too. We need a new way of describing this racing without hinting at PEDs. The haters already have enough to hate on.
@Andy: I stand by my cliche, even if it is Politically Incorrect.
Question: Are AC sailors actually prohibited from using PEDs???
If I was one of those Hydraulic Grinding Guys I might be looking into some of that action.
As in most other top level competitions, the majority of races are lost on mistakes not won. Nevertheless, amazing spectacle. I just cannot see where this will filter down to the Wednesday nights around the bouys. With these speeds I’ll stay off the course.
In other news the Costa Concordia is up.