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  • matt7346

Oh dear

21 Feb, 2021

I so wanted this stage of the series to go down to the wire

From the evidence of the Round Robin there was every reason to expect that it would. But in the end, I don’t think it is unfair to say that there was a sense of inevitability about today’s result. It’s always easier to see what was going on after the final result has been delivered, if nothing else it’s the first time we get to step outside the bubble and look at the series as a whole. The reality is that Ben and the boys delivered two very impressive starts where they showed that they had the foresight and the skills to mix things up and put the super slick Italians on the back foot during the start. The trouble was that in both races the early British advantage was scrubbed out barely a third of the way up the first leg. No wonder Spithill and Bruni have been so relaxed in the post-race interviews and press conferences – they knew they had speed to burn. They knew that they had another gear in the gearbox in which they could either climb out of trouble, survive in the dirt, or squeeze ‘till it hurt and bounce the Brits off. And of course, you knew that too. (And if you didn’t and you want a 3min catch up on what happened today, here’s the link But it also has to be said that Luna Rossa’s performance has been impressive. While the other two challengers have been on a roller coaster ride through the pre-amble to the Cup they have sat in the middle, said little, showed nothing and delivered when it counted. When they slid through the Prada Cup semi-final and dispatched American Magic we thought that they were having to talk up an awkward route to the Cup. They would surely have preferred to have had the extra time in the shed. Turns out that this was wrong and that getting out on the race course was a good way to get match fit and develop their skills for their next encounter. It also turns out that one of their big issues was communication between Bruni and Spithill and their newly appointed breeze spotter/mainsheet trimmer Pietro Sibello. You don’t need or want to be in the shed to rehearse this kind of development, hours on the water is what counts. For the Brits I suspect the issue was more about hardware. Their performance in the Prada Cup Final showed that they have the sailing skills but didn’t have the hardware to support it. And while there are tweaks and improvements that can be made, wholesale changes to the hardware takes time. But before we look at whether the Italians can take on the Kiwis and win, here’s a little behind the scenes chatter about a spat that’s been going on over the last couple of days about the legality of Luna Rossa’s jib sheeting system. The issue has been rumbling away for some time but surfaced in the public domain shortly before racing began today with a Complaint of non Compliance (CNC) being issued by the Brits against Luna Rossa. You can read the full doc at but essentially the issue was around a rule that says teams have to strip the jib sheet off the winch during each tack before putting the new sheet on. As I understand it the rule was there to stop hydraulically driven jib sheet systems that could go in and out by whatever means. The British claim was that the Italians, ‘did not load or unload the headsail winch while tacking and gybing’ and that, ‘when viewed from above…were covered by parts of the yacht that were not allowed to be covered.’ The strange thing is that in an attempt to resolve the issue the measurement committee asked if the teams would use cameras during racing to make it clear how each were handling their jib sheets. The Brits agreed, the Italians declined. The trouble appears to be that there was no way of enforcing this and in the end the CNC was dismissed. It is not my intention to sound like there are sour grapes here, merely as an observer at several Cups it is often the small details that end up playing a bigger part later on. Who knows. Anyway, it is what it is from here and the Italians are now going to face the Kiwis as the America’s Cup challengers for the second time. It’s taken 21 years to get back to this place, which provides some perspective for those that are currently packing up their bases. So, can the Italians do it? Again, it’s anybody’s guess at this stage but what is interesting is to consider how the Kiwis are preparing for the big days ahead. The eagle eyed among you may have wondered why Emirates Team New Zealand have been on the race course just before and straight after racing during the last two days. Were they missing the media attention? I suspect not. Surely the reason is to gather data on their future competition. Getting onto the race course and going hell for leather gives you a great set of data to form a datum by which to compare the performance of the challengers. You know what you could do in those conditions, but how did they fair? Getting their data is easy. Plus, unlike the practice races or training you know that they were pushing pretty hard given that their passage through to the Cup was at stake. The data is real. Then, when the challengers have finished beating each other up you get onto their race course again in the conditions that they finished in and set a few more benchmark runs. It’s often said that the problem with being the Defender is that you don’t get to play with the opposition until it counts and that they have got match fit in the process. I’m not sure that the case this time around. So, after three months of watching the 36th Cup unfold I think it’s time to modify my approach too. Looking back at my notes and ramblings since arriving here back in December I’ve decided that the best thing to do going forwards is to jot down my gut feelings and then bet against the complete opposite…such has been the unpredictability of this America’s Cup cycle. We’ve now got just short of two weeks in which what we think we know now could easily change. I’ll sign off with one other thought. In winning today, Luna Rossa and the club that they represent, Circolo della Vela Sicilia, are only the second team/club in Cup history to be a Challenger of Record to make it through to the Cup itself in a multi-challenger event. The only other occasion was the first ever Challenger of Record, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1970 with Gretel II. They beat the remaining challenger, Baron Marcel Bich’s French syndicate 4:0 (two others had dropped out), but they lost to Intrepid come the Cup. As a result, some see being the Challenger of Record as being a poisoned chalice, but if the Italians pull it off and win the Cup this time they will be the first ever Challenger of record to do so. Sorry it was so long tonight…had to get it off my chest. Night night. Today’s 3min summary Shameless PlanetSail plug Recent videos you should watch: Turning & Sea Breezes – what the latter looks like in the air OnCourse Episode 10 – Our monthly magazine show Trimming an AC Mainsail – Paul Goodison explains

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