Having come into the final day of the first Preliminary Regatta of the 37th America’s Cup here in Vilanova i La Geltrú sitting in fifth place, it was an outside bet at best that NYYC American Magic could climb the leaderboard and challenge for a spot in the Match-Race Grand Final.

But the America’s Cup is where the best sailors perform and the outstanding team of the day in Tom Slingsby, Paul Goodison, Riley Gibbs and Michael Menninger put on a masterclass of big-time regatta sailing, taking their chances, sailing unbelievably smoothly and scoring a three-race string of 2-1-1 to stun the rest of the fleet. All along the waterfront crowds flocked to see the drama unfold and with an armada of craft of all shapes and sizes making up the spectator fleet, the atmosphere was electric as the afternoon progressed here in beautiful Vilanova i La Geltrú.

© Alex Carabi / America’s Cup

For many commentators who have watched NYYC American Magic in recent training sessions it was no surprise to see the team perform. In Barcelona training sessions and all throughout the winter out in Pensacola, Florida, they have been steadily, incrementally improving under the watchful eye of Team Principle Terry Hutchinson and the coaching team led by Tom Burnham. Today they delivered and although it was a shame for the spectators and the global viewing audience that in the Match Race Grand Final against Emirates Team New Zealand, the wind shut down and the time-limit for reaching the first mark was exceeded, thus giving the win to NYYC American Magic, no-one was in any doubt that the Americans sailed brilliantly today and thoroughly deserved to win.

The concluding day was effectively an arm wrestle over the first three races between Emirates Team New Zealand and NYYC American Magic but there were some superb performances, most notably from the Orient Express Racing Team who, after just 15 days of sailing the AC40, finished in third much to the delight of their supporters and sponsors.

© Ricardo Pinto / America’s Cup

Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had an almost ‘private battle’ out on the beautiful waters of Vilanova i La Geltrú over the first two races but a gear failure for the Swiss ahead of the start of race 3 denied the fans the spectacle in race three. The only disappointing team were INEOS Britannia who found that their lack of time in the boat came back to haunt them – Sir Ben Ainslie will be looking to address this ahead of the next regatta in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the end of November.

© Paul Todd / America’s Cup

Grant Dalton, CEO of America’s Cup Events, was pleased overall with the regatta, saying: “I think Catalonia and Vilanova has been amazing. I was in the Race Village a few times and felt the atmosphere, the weather has done everything it can to disrupt us, but I think that what it says to me is that the America’s Cup is going to be a big event and I picked that up from the Volunteers and the people. I reflect on how well the event has been run, Leslie (Ryan) and the team have done a really good job and been well supported and that’s a good team for the future. There will be a pretty serious amount of de-briefing after this to tidy up around the edges because the America’s Cup is for keeps but the people of Vilanova and Catalonia, they’ve just been amazing and that’s the bit that makes it.”


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