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Not yet, please

The America’s Cup may be decided tonight and oddly, despite years of wrangling and weeks of very hit and miss racing, it seems a little too soon. Surely we’ve only just got going?

To say this Cup cycle was a slow burn is an understatement – the build up to the 34th contest for the ‘Auld Mug’ has been like trying to light a bonfire with soggy twigs and flint. But now it’s well and truly smoking with Sunday’s place-changing duels widely heralded as some of the best racing the event has ever seen. Not the best Cup racing held in catamarans, but the best Cup races ever. Period (to borrow a phrase from the hosts).

“As Dean Barker, the Team NZ helmsman said afterwards: “If you can’t get excited about this then sailing is not really your sport,” points out Sir Ben Ainslie (and how the American commentators love that ‘Sir’!) in today’s Telegraph.

Ben goes on to wonder, “So what has changed? Why have we suddenly got quicker? There is no magic bullet. The America’s Cup is a non-stop development race.”

Of course the one thing that has changed, the one magic bullet that has been added, is Ben himself. Together with some fairly hefty boat modifications – the hacking off of the bowsprit presumably being only the most obvious – Oracle have found an entirely new gear and the America’s Cup has genuinely become a war of attrition between the very best sailors on the planet.

Whoever emerges as victors, it will be the best team that wins it on the water. It is gratifying to feel that this America’s Cup was not ultimately decided months ago in a courtroom or a boardroom, by an accountant, a designer or a committee, but by the 22 sailors and their support crew who have thrown the AC72s around San Francisco Bay. They have given their all. Andrew Simpson, of course, gave everything. And whichever team gets to lift the spectacular silver trophy will truly, truly deserve it.

Emirates Team New Zealand's near capsize in Race 8 of the America's Cup © ACEA / PHOTO ABNER KINGMAN

Emirates Team New Zealand’s near capsize in Race 8 of the America’s Cup © ACEA / PHOTO ABNER KINGMAN

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