With the 36th America’s Cup about to make a delayed start in lockdown Auckland, the two competing teams have been busy talking up the event.
Sometimes that has sounded like desperation as they try to convince a sceptical world that we are finally going to see some decent competitive match racing in this event.
Things have not gone well for this edition of the Cup, with most of the pre-events cancelled, and the teams wasting time and money transporting their boats around the world to non-existent events.
They have ended up in Auckland, supposedly one of the best places to be during the Covid-19 pandemic, reduced to racing on a couple of distant courses, with spectators actively discouraged, and a sudden complete Lockdown lurking in the background.
Even the one ACWS event that was managed in Auckland just before Christmas was a limp affair. The only excitement the strange case of the melt-down of INEOS Team UK and then their miraculous turn-around in time for the Prada Cup Challenger Series.
The Prada Cup was then blindsided by the spectacular capsize and internal destruction of American Magic, providing another off-water story as they rebuilt a version of their boat that was obviously a pale shadow of the original.
The semi-final event between American Magic and Luna Rossa was a totally one-sided event and the American team quickly left the event without a win.
After their own last minute rebuild, INEOS Team UK went into the Prada Cup final against Luna Rossa as the pundit’s choice, only to implode again when they came up against some real competitive pressure.
Taking a single token win they were thrashed 7 – 1 and joined American Magic on the side lines.
Yet another weak Cup performance from a British AC team, the design element again raising questions despite the no-expense spared approach, and a design/build team with additional high-tech facilities at their beck and call.
The future of the Portsmouth UK based team in the America’s Cup looks in the balance.
It now depends on Ben Ainslie being able to convince billionaire Jim Ratcliffe that this is a perfectly normal stage in the America’s Cup long game. Although 170 years is stretching things!
And that another £120+ million is all that is needed to finish the job . . . Ratcliffe must surely be thinking that it’s someone else’s round!
Racing in the 36th America’s Cup match, between the defender Emirates Team New Zealand and challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli starts on the Hauraki Gulf, on Wednesday 10 March.
Desperately hoping for a tight series, not really an America’s Cup thing – 6 of the last 10 Cups have finished without the loser posting a single race win – the experts have spread their bets.
They allow for a Luna Rossa edge in the lighter conditions (predicted for the early races), and an ETNZ walk over if there is any decent breeze and their boat really is as fast as everyone assumes or at least the Kiwi media hopes.
With Ainslie out of the picture, British interest in the event quickly evaporated, so the first day confrontation has a lot riding on it . . . with a 7-0 whitewash by the Kiwis possibly the worst result for the future of the Auld Mug.
Viewing AC36 in the UK:
BBC TV in the UK is showing the first day of racing – Wed 10 March – from 03:00 hrs UK. It is then available on the Red Button One at 07:00 hrs UK and at 22:30 hrs UK.
All the AC36 matches are being shown live on Sky TV between 05:00 and 07:00 hrs UK time, from Wednesday.
The Sky channel is either Sky Mix, Main Event or Sports Action, depending on the day.
The America’s Cup YouTube channel also has a free live stream in the UK.