Several rounds of dark and stormies may have helped lighten the mood among New York Yacht Club team members Saturday after their elimination from the 36th America’s Cup.
The popular sailor’s drink — a combination of rum, ginger ale and a squeeze of lime juice — had a part in the immediate process of reflection on the troubled American Magic campaign which finally ended with a 4-0 loss to Italy’s Luna Rossa in the challenger semifinal.
On Sunday when a new process began of packing up the team’s harbor-side base in downtown Auckland, ending an almost four-year campaign. There was also a beginning of a longer-term rumination on the future in the America’s Cup of the New York Yacht Club and the United States.
“I have nothing but pride for what we’ve done over the last three-and-a-half years,” American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson said. “Obviously our measure is the result sheet and without question that is the most disappointing part.
“All we can do is take it on the chin, understand our strengths and weaknesses from here and move the whole game forward. If we’re fortunate enough to be back in the 37th America’s Cup we’ll learn from these mistakes and be better for it.”
The principals of the challenge including major backers Doug DeVos, Roger Penske and John “Hap” Fauth have to decide in concert with the NYYC whether to mount a new challenge in the next America’s Cup regatta, likely in four years time. As the technological side of the regatta advances, the cost of participation increases and the bill for any challenge leaves little change out of US$100 million.
All of that expense, the concerted effort of a team of more than 150 people, ended in bitter disappointment on the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland on Saturday when American Magic lost the last two races of its best-of-seven semifinal against Luna Rossa. The last race was emblematic of an unlucky campaign when race yacht Patriot was undone by a mechanical failure.
Patriot had capsized and come close to sinking 12 days before the semifinal series began and its appearance on the start line of the first race was due only to a magnificent effort of the team and the assistance it received from its opponents who helped repair the severely damaged boat.
Many observers thought the boat could not fully be repaired to such a tight deadline but American Magic worked miracles to have Patriot sailing within 10 days of its capsize.
“I’m a glass half full person. I always thought we would get back, even when we were waist-deep in the water,” American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson said. “We have an incredible team over in our four walls and we obviously received great support from the teams around us.
“There was some serious motivation. We all saw the potential of our boat so we were motivated to get back out on the water and there was never a question of whether or not we were going to go racing again.”
Hutchinson credits the backers with providing the spirit that inspired and sustained American Magic from its founding in 2017. He also expresses confidence that spirit might stretch to another campaign.
“We wouldn’t be sitting here without each one of them,” he said. “When we started this program in 2017 I was getting a little bit of cold feet and I communicated that to Doug and to Hap and Doug doesn’t mind me saying he wrote me a nice note back saying ‘it might be the vodka speaking but I think we should go for it’. And here we sit.”
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