The squeaking, hissing and groaning has stopped at last - and that’s just me. In San Francisco the America’s Cup is over for now and Team USA have retained the Cup, after a titanic and almost unbelievable struggle against early odds. The big beautiful catamarans have also gone quiet and are being put away, perhaps for ever – because who can afford to enter another America’s Cup regatta with such super-sized, super-fast, super-expensive yachts.
At least that’s what we here down-under in New Zealand thought a week or so ago. Because we were 8 – 1 up and only needed one more win to get our hands back on the Cup. We were already polishing its plinth. How could we lose? Chicken-counting seemed harmless enough, although some cautioned against it. We told ourselves comfortably that we could even afford to lose a race or two. We only needed one win, they needed eight without losing a single one. We were already planning the next regatta, back here, with smaller, more affordable, more accessible boats when everyone could join in rather than the three who challenged the Cup holders Team USA this time.
George and Zoe, my resident furries, had become accustomed to a daily nap between eight and ten a.m. on my blanketed lap, but I watched the racing with increasing alarm. The days passed and Team USA, astonishingly, won five races on the trot. Yesterday, trailing 8 – 6, they brushed Team NZ aside before race one even properly started and, coming from behind, finished the job spectacularly with race two. The day ended at 8 all, with one race to go.
That was today. We tried, we really tried. Like the rest of the four million-plus Kiwis I wore my red socks. I blew the wind till my cheeks exploded. I whistled. I yelled at the television, watched through my fingers the relentless, triumphant progress of Team USA up and down the course. They came from behind – again – and roared home. The regatta – all nineteen races of it – has been described as the most staggering upset win in the history of sport. And it was hugely exciting, even for someone like me who knows nothing about sailing and, usually, cares less.
George and Zoe napped on, mindless of the carnage on the water way over there in San Francisco. They are going to be decidedly put out tomorrow morning when they have to find somewhere else to sleep the morning away. The sun will still rise. There is, after all, life after The America’s Cup and I have work to do.