Trofeo Desafío Español in Valencia

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The America's Cup Beast Awakens

November 7, 2008


Photo:©2008 Carlo Borlenghi/Alinghi

Today could have been just another day in Valencia. But it wasn't. Yes, the sun shone. Yes, the breeze filled in eventually, the beaches were cool and empty though the sea still maintained its air of invitation, the paths around the America’s Cup port still echoed quietly with the ghosts of a million shoes from yesteryear.

And to all intents and purposes, for the majority of the population it was just that -- just another day.

But something was different. An almost imperceptible change had occurred. You can’t put your finger on it, almost a sense of déjà vu. You just feel something is different, even if you can’t see it yet.

So had you been on your walk along the beach or on your perambulations on the pier, popping into 39°27N Bar for a (very expensive) coffee, if for one moment you had cast your gaze upon the sea, out beyond the ripples on the beach, something was different.

Hulls like sharks. Masts, needle thin. Dirty grey razor-sharp sails. There were yachts out there. And no ordinary yachts. These were the knights of the sea, gone jousting once again.

In my mind's eye I can almost picture them, mounted once more on their steeds, emerging through the grey shrouds of a Valencia autumn morning into the bright sun, shields and swords gleaming, groomed and cleaned, meticulously prepared as ever, ready and eager for battle.

To me, that is America’s Cup racing. Gladiatorial. Men and machine locked in mortal combat. Only one winner. And it's so good to see these boats on the water again, doing what they were built to do. Race. Very few round these parts noticed, and probably even fewer cared. But I did.

Never mind the politics; never mind the "whys" and "wherefores".  These are awesome machines, and they are back afloat.  As soon as I caught sight of mast and sail, my pulse quickened like a small boy.  It brings out the child in all of us.  Some of the most expensive toys that money can buy, gracing the waves once more. Sleek, effortless, beautiful. If you have ever looked at one close up, or even from a distance, you quickly realize these are no ordinary machines. You don't buy one off the shelf at the London Boat Show. They have a purpose, a honed functionality of design that other boats do not have. There is no compromise, no second place.  A weapon, a killing machine, but with the grace and finesse of the most beautiful lady. A complete dichotomy.

The sheds lining the new marina that have stood closed and silent for so long have slowly come to life again. No, there is not the buzz that there was a year ago. The silence is almost overwhelming. But some of the doors have opened again and heads peer above the parapet. The beast which is the America Cup reawakens....

--- ©2008 John Crisp for CupInfo


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