Tomorrow the game changes – win or go home. It’s tough, but it’s the harsh reality and all three challengers know it. By next week one team will be preparing for the PRADA Cup final, the other making shipping arrangements.
The PRADA Cup semi-final was always going to be a tough match. Over the last few weeks we have seen how competitive all three challengers are and how fast they are developing their boats and sailing techniques. What form guide there has been so far has seen big changes in just a few days.
No one expected any of it to be easy. Building a 100 strong team comprising the world’s leading experts doesn’t happen overnight. Creating a boat that fits within an ambitious and untried concept, but also one that can win, was a huge undertaking for all.
Even when everything is going well, a Cup campaign is a big ask, this one, with its huge technical challenges particularly so. But for American Magic, the road to this point has been especially tough.
Their spectacular capsize and near sinking saw the entire project go from boom to bust in a heartbeat. As PATRIOT was raised out of the water after being recovered the long ribbons of carbon tape that streamed away from a gaping hole the size and shape of an airliner’s cargo hold said it all. Getting back on the water would require a Herculean push and at this stage it was unclear whether it was even possible.
But 10 days later, after a phenomenal effort by the team, PATRIOT was back on the water preparing for the PRADA Cup semi-final.
‘Out of adversity comes opportunity’, as the saying goes and American Magic’s opponents for the semi-final Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will be very aware that in making their deadline and getting back into the game, the American team will be focussed, determined and pumped full of renewed confidence. They’ve been to the bottom and bounced back and in their minds, anything is now possible.
But while the power tools have been whirring away at the team base in the Wynyard Quarter, Luna Rossa have also been busy pursuing their careful development strategy. To date, theirs has been a steady campaign and while they haven’t been the most successful on the scoreboard, they have been consistent performers. Indeed, it has been the other two challengers that have rotated around them, bouncing from one extreme to the other. So, if maintaining quiet confidence in a strategy was the plan, the Italians are clearly on track.
The result is that not even the pundits are confident in predicting the outcome of this match. We may be getting familiar with the style of racing, but we are a long way from knowing which team will succeed in taking the best of seven races.
An overall view of the weather forecast suggests that the breeze will be SW 17- 22kts on Friday before switching direction to become NE 9-13kts on Saturday and building again on Sunday. But it’s a bold person who claims that this provides any reliable indications as to which team might prevail.
All we know is that from Friday the game has changed for all and at the end of the process one team will be going home.