The 1987 Fremantle America’s Cup really was a once-in-a-lifetime moment in American sailing history. Sailing was on the mouths of millions of Dennis Conner’s countrymen and everyone – sailor or landlubber – had pride in what we saw as a national achievement – the original Smackdown Downunder. The video above is AC media’s take on the 25th Anniversary – a nice tribute to DC and the grit of the Stars & Stripes team.
Unfortunately, the days of dozens of challengers and millions of proud, nationalistic American fans are long gone, perhaps never to return. ACRM is under increasing pressure to get at least another boat or two signed up before the June deadline for what is currently a 3-boat Louis Vuitton Cup. And pressure is mounting on organizers to somehow reconcile to San Francisco and event sponsors their wildly optimistic spectator estimates with the reality from the first three events, and to update the plans for future events to reflect this more realistic assessment. It’s not an easy time to be Iain Murray, that’s for sure.
It’s still possible for some of the fence-sitters to make it to the starting line in San Francisco on the day – we hear that Team Korea and Energy Team have both pulled in most of their estimated build budget for an AC72, though neither has nearly enough for the rest of the expenses. China is moving along nicely too, though they’re still well short and haven’t gotten the biggest piece covered at press time. At least they’re moving in the right direction, and they need to if they intend to make the start. If things aren’t humming along by June, they’re spectators.
While a 3-boat Challenger series will certainly make Russell Coutts look bad, and Larry like a gambler who got it wrong, the racing should still be something special to anyone who digs high speed yachting. Luna Rossa’s entry turns a bit of a joke into something dramatic – (we all know that ‘Italian’ is another word for ‘drama’), and in a move confirmed by an inside source yesterday, it will make the fashionable team almost as popular in Spain as it is in Italy.
Telefonica leaders Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez will don Prada gear on the Luna Rossa AC45 beginning in September, after the Spanish superstars finish trouncing the Volvo Ocean Race fleet. How that will impact the current lineup of Bruni/Sirena/Modena/Draper is yet to be discussed, but it will no doubt add a ton of juice from one of the hottest two-man crews in sailing to an Italian team that’s already coming out of the blocks with purpose.