Ah, we love the optimism of this author, but it looks to be very misplaced. We say look at Ferrari in F1 this year – they had little chance at getting competitive, and they definitely did not. Their car (engine) was a dog, and so is Ineos.
A boat that looks different and at times was the fastest but at other times just wouldn’t do what the skipper and his crew would want it to do and could be beaten on the water by similar boats of the same design rule. A frustrated skipper with one of the richest men in his country bank rolling the project and no doubt expecting more bang for his buck than he was getting.
A team that had been together for years and the best the marine industry of the country could provide.
Of course I am speaking about INEOS, the boat and Ben Ainslie, the skipper.
Actually, I’m not!
When Alan Bond launched his final attempt at the Auld Mug he called on John Bertrand to be his skipper. It was to be a no holds barred final throw of the dice and he in turn looked to Ben Lexcen, known as Ben Bob to design him something radical, and boy, he didn’t disappoint.
Like the current crop of America’s Cup boats the result was radical – like Red Bull, she had wings on her ‘upside down’ keel. Totally different from anything before her, just as the current AC boats are a first. So radical was she they even kept the keel ‘skirted’ throughout the whole or The Cup.
She wasn’t always fast and had a tendency to ‘wobble’ when the waves didn’t quite suit her making her initially difficult to steer and in early trials found her stalking horse, Challenge 12 was more than just a Challenge.
She caused doubts and caustic comments like “it maybe looks good in a test tank but the only waters that matter are on the race course off Newport”. She also had more than her fair share of breakdowns at key moments with steering letting go or her mainsail headboard deciding to detach from the rest of the sail
Of course Australia 2, the ‘Little White Pointer’ went on to re-write history in 1983 and beat Liberty of the mighty New York Yacht Club and Big Bad Dennis on those waters off Newport, Rhode Island.
If she hadn’t, Patriot might be the Defender instead of a Challenger, the curtailing of a 132 year winning streak might never have happened, and who knows, without the drama of A2 Vs Liberty in 83, there would have been no material for Connor’s book ‘Comeback’ and no New Zealand entry into The Cup with KZ7 and, and, and!
The Cup may even have withered on the vine without the drama of those two cup editions.
So back to INEOS!
To describe her on her current performance as ‘a dog’ might appear completely accurate but the action in the recent regatta is, in America’s Cup terms, just practice racing and is the time to discover faults with the boat and how she is sailed.
If, after the Prada Cup, she is still overall way behind the rest then perhaps calling her a barker could prove to be correct but the fat lady hasn’t even cleared her throat yet.
Sir Ben and his team are clearly behind the eight ball with the boat in its current configuration and the way she is sailed but with the amount of data streamed off these boats it would be a pretty fair guess that they now know where the problems lie and will be moving heaven and earth to close the gap between themselves and the other three protagonists.
Time will tell. I could be wrong – it has been known before but I do think it is a little bit early to be writing off the GBP120m spend of the British Challenge. – SS.