I cannot believe how much I have emotionally invested in this year’s America’s Cup.
Yesterday was a cliff hanger to see if the Kiwis would finally take out the Spanish to win their semi-final for the Louis Vuitton Cup. For just over an hour I had one ear open to the race live on my laptop at work. The Kiwis had been 4-2 up over the Spanish in the best of nine races, the Spanish running on pure adrenalin just getting this far in their first America’s Cup challenge.
Conditions were perfect for the Kiwi boat – absolute Hauraki Gulf sailing conditions most New Zealanders are familiar with – 1m chop and 15-25 knot winds. Spray was flying, bows were heaving in the most extreme weather the boats have yet to experience off Valencia – it’s terrific what imagery even a radio commentary can conjure up.
The finals for the Louis Vuitton kick off June 1. The Kiwis against the Italians in Luna Rossa, skippered by the young and awesome Aussie, James Spithill. This all brings back shades of 2000, when Luna Rossa had beaten the Americans to take the Louis Vuitton and win the right to challenge Team NZ for the America’s Cup. NZ finally retained the Cup at 5-0; but the Italians have come a long way over the last seven years, effectively shutting out BMW Oracle 5-1 to win their Louis Vuitton semi-final - tough times for Larry Ellison and the American boat. (One wonders what BMW Oracle, skipper, helmsman and CEO Chris Dickson will be doing once he wraps Ellison’s syndicate up in Valencia.)
And then whoever wins the Louis Vuitton wins the right to challenge the current America’s Cup holders, the Swiss in their powerhouse, Alinghi. That duel starts June 23.
I, for one, will be hanging on every word, and every image. Sport, and sailing, at its best.