As promised, John Hibb’s observations of the 2017 America’s Cup.
The Kiwis Rode in on a Bike. And Flew Out with the Cup.
We haven’t seen a thrashing this bad since Cassius Clay whupped Sony Liston. Clay, a heavy underdog, showed the power of foot speed, courage and that he could take a hit. All made more impressive by youth, innovation and ability to adjust to tough new challenges..
Plus, a terrific reminder of how the Wright Brothers whupped a race horse and left the horse in the dust.
But first….about the America’s Cup.
There is nothing bigger in whole entire sailing world than which TEAM takes home the Cup. (Entry fees, to begin, start at around $30 million bucks.) But who cares about the price?
Here, the difference was clear cut:
The boys from New Zealand were quick, dazzeling and superb. The opposition — Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle – got an old fashioned ass kicking. Particularly appropriate because Ellison dictated the design rules and set Bermuda as the venue.
What he didn’t count on was Kiwi Magic…a carryover from the days of “Black Magic”.
No matter. This was not about magic. In the end, Oracle was out-classed, out-manned, out-gunned by smart folks from Down Under.
In my book the Kiwis had it all the way.
Guess what? Big League sailboat racing will never be the same. In ten knots of breeze these machines are jaw-dropping rocket ships — with electronic wizardry that would amaze Google, Amazon and the whole geek world.. (Not to mention all those brainiacs at Oracle.)
But the biggest change came when the Kiwis substituted ordinary ‘coffee grinders’ for athletes recruited from the Tour de France. The message: Screw you Larry. We have a better way!
Today, the question that Ellison has yet to answer is a why billionaire software guru forgot this maxim: Sailors win races by a keen view of the seascape. What better view than high on a bicycle seat? Sure. Leg power is more powerful than arm power. But, far more important is that teamwork and collaboration is the heart of all great performances. Larry: Ask your grinders. Which team had the better collaborative platform? A better view of the whole entire race course?
Also this: While the America’s Cup vocabulary has changed from jib, spinnaker and mainsail to dagger boards, wings and foils….and “Fly Time” has become the most important new metric, the new dictum is you are either ‘up on your foil’ …..or you are looking at the tail end of a rocket ship.
Don’t blink! In a heart beat you could miss the knock out.
The simple truth is this: Foot speed really, really counts. Disagree? Ask anyone who saw Cassius Clay — (aka Muhammed Ali) — put a whuppin on Sonny Liston. For many of the same reasons, it was the same for the Kiwis.