AC34: Game Faces
AC34: Game Faces
Both men are confident in their teams and their platforms. One is polished, the other shaken. One is lean, the other is flush with spares. The America's Cup Best of 17 starts Saturday, Sept. 7., and here's what the lead men have to say from the opening press conference.
John Kostecki, OTUSA tactician and brother-in-law to ousted de Ridder, echoed Spithill’s sentiments, “We’ll really miss him. We’re in contact with him all the time and he’s in great spirits. But as Jimmy said we have to move forward and he’s given us that respect. The best thing we can do for him is win the America’s Cup.”
On the Kiwi front, it’s clear the Kiwis don’t take this event lightly. Says Barker, “We’re going to see a very close battle between two teams who are very well prepared, but we don’t know and they don’t know who is faster. We’re going to put everything into it that we possibly can, and we’ve done all the preparation, but if we’re not fast enough, we’re not fast enough. It’s not more complicated than that. We’re really excited to be getting out racing and the team is in very good spirits.”
But, the speed differences between the two teams is a big unknown and the one factor that could make or break the event. The AC72 is a development class and both teams, especially OTUSA have had limited time on the water. With more time, things could always be done better, agrees Barker.
“You could always do things slightly better. The decisions you make now in hindsight could probably be quite different. In saying that, you work with what you’ve got, and we’re very happy with the way that we’ve improved our boat’s performance since July last year. They are very, very difficult boats to get right.”
But given another six months, Spithill thinks these boats would only get much faster. “I think we’re just scraping the surface,” Spithill says. “I think both teams go out each day and break their personal best. In another six months, it wouldn’t surprise me if we’d see 50s.”
The atmosphere at the America’s Cup Park in San Francisco is rife with excitement. It really does feel like these two teams, longtime rivals, are set to go into battle. Foil-wise and aero-dynamically, the boats are close; both helmsman state their boats are optimized for the range of conditons that San Francisco Bay can throw at them. ETNZ is hoping that the time they’ve put in on the water and knowing their boat will serve them well, while the American team are counting on the hometown advantage together with a team that is deep in experience and talent.
Says Kostecki, a San Francisco local, “If the boats end up being somewhat equal in speed it’s going to be a good boat race. It’ll come down to the sailors, the tactics and the cool maneuvers, that’ll be the difference.”