With prodigy Peter Burling at its helm, the Kiwi Challenge outclassed its American rival in Bermuda.
This time, there was no spectacular “comeback“. And in the Land of the Long White Cloud, the trauma of San Francisco is finally erased. In 2013, the Golden Gate had collapsed on the heads of New Zealanders, beaten 9-8 by the Americans after leading 8-1. Four years later, in the turquoise waters of the Great Sound, the magnificent body of water in Bermuda where the 35th America’s Cup took place, the Kiwis took a resounding revenge by outclassing the Defender 7 wins to 1 Torn from its former adopted land by Ernesto Bertarelli and the Swiss Alinghi in 2003, the Silver Ewer will very soon find Auckland Bay and its 135,000 sailboats (world record). An ideal vacation spot for this old lady born in 1851. The prodigy skipper Peter Burling and his partners will be greeted like rock stars in a country fond of sailing and drugged in the “Cup” since the victory of Sir Peter Blake on Black Magic in 1995.
Snub for Americans
If he were still in this world, the mustached colossus twice winner of the Cup (1995, 2000) would be proud of his offspring, authors of an exceptional month in Bermuda where they won 26 of their 33 regattas. Starting with a penalty point following the victory of Oracle Team USA in the Qualifiers (in which Groupama Team France participated), Grant Dalton’s men flew over the debates in the final. A burst of pride allowed Americans to avoid a humiliating bubble. But the defeat remains scathing and represents a huge snub for the proteges of billionaire Larry Ellison. In order to keep its “precious”, the Defender had put all the chances on his side by settling more than three years ago in Bermuda. Equipped with unparalleled structures (the only visit to the crew’s gym installed in a 19th century building of the former Dockyard military base was worth the detour), a very comfortable budget (between 80 and 90 M $) and the expertise of Airbus and Oracle, the title holders fell on a bone.
A boat without equal
Presented as “the lone wolf” of the Cup after its refusal to sign the memorandum of understanding perpetuating the current format for the 36th and 37th editions, Emirates Team New Zealand has done nothing like the others. Arrived last in Bermuda at the beginning of April, the challenge of the end of the world exploded by focusing on the thighs of its sailors rather than on their arms to accumulate the energy necessary for the adjustments of the appendages and the rigid wing of its catamaran. Capable of flying faster and longer on its foils than its competitors in the light winds of the Great Sound (around ten knots), the New Zealand AC50, designed in part by the French architect Guillaume Verdier, also impressed during turns and gybes. When the competing coxswain sometimes had a multitude of actions to perform during regattas, the New Zealanders let Peter Burling concentrate on piloting his machine.
Burling already at the top
The face whitened with sunscreen, the bar at shoulder height, the 26-year-old “kid” was often impassive. Unwavering serenity despite his lack of experience in match racing, compensated by an exceptional touch of the helm and the wise advice of his skipper, the old Australian briscard Glenn Ashby. Facing him, the “Pitbull” Jimmy Spithill, double title holder, often looked like a lost dog, multiplying unusual errors, especially on the starting phases. It remains to be seen what the New Zealand rebels are preparing for the next Cup, the “deed of gift” (deed of gift) offering the winner full latitude to define the conditions for the defense of the trophy. A return to monohulls cannot be ruled out.