Kiwis On Top

Kiwis On Top

A little update from ETNZ…

If Emirates Team New Zealand is feeling a little uneasy these days, it’s not because there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the wonderful world of the America’s Cup. For a team that much prefers to be the underdog – the hunter rather than the hunted – their position at the top of the Med Cup leader board after two regattas leaves them satisfied but wary.

With three regattas to go, they have no illusions about the size of the fight ahead. The 16-point buffer going into the Cagliari (Sardinia) regatta which starts on July 20 has the team feeling something like the fairgoer who volunteers to be the target for the knife-thrower. Every knife that misses is a bonus.

They take every good result as it comes. A bad result hurts like hell, but they shrug it off and get on with the next one. The MedCup fleet is strong, packed with America’s Cup yachties. Just about every boat in the fleet has shown that it can win races. With people like Russell Coutts (Artemis), Terry Hutchinson (Quantum) and Cameron Dunn (Synergy) there’s no lack of gunslingers on the water. Matador is being campaigned really well and when you’re up against guys with the flair of Vasco Vascotta on Pisco Sour, every race is a gun fight.

Not that Dean Barker and crew spend all their time looking over their shoulders, but no one will relax until the last race of the last regatta. The team has made it plain that they’re there for the long game. Consistency is the game plan. Every race is another step along the way. Word from inside the team is that they like the boat. It has shown good pace and if they sail it well they’ll do OK. In the two regattas so far, the boat had enough speed to pull back some places after ETNZ had been caught on the wrong side of a shift. That’s great but the performance of the overall sailing package is still paramount.

The crew has been racing together for a long time. They get on well, they like sailing together and in a tight spot there’s an innate understanding of what needs to be done next. Even when thundering into a mark at 15 knots and five other boats are right on top of them there’s no shouting, no panic, just a bunch of guys doing what they’ve done hundreds of times before.