Get ready, a fantastic spectacle worthy of science fiction is coming up

When he covered the America’s Cup in Fremantle in 1987 the American satirist P. J. O’Rourke failed to see what the fuss was all about.

Taking a press motorboat out to watch the action on the water he was dumbfounded as he watched his cigarette smoke waft lazily downwind quicker than the yachts.

“The America’s Cup is like driving your Lamborghini to the Grand Prix track to watch the charter buses race,” O’Rourke concluded in his very funny book Holidays in Hell.

To any outsider the America’s Cup could easily have seemed a mule-headed construct: a flagship event with sky’s-the-limit budgets which purposely sets out to go far slower than current technology allows.

Not next week, though. For the first time and possibly the last, the America’s Cup is a showcase for the speed of sailing. It promises to be wildly exciting, visually and intellectually.

Instead of nerdy match-racing for purists and ‘keeper of the flame’ historians we’ll have breathtakingly extreme-looking Death Star yachts engaged in the fabulous spectacle of racing at four times the speed of the wind.

Think about it: two boats with possible closing speeds of 140kph. Two huge, jet-sized sailing yachts perpetually on the verge of pinging apart that even pursuing motorboats will struggle to keep in their sights.

The world’s great fictional anti-heroes always live in vast complexes underwater or beneath an opening door in the crater of a volcano. So it’s wholly appropriate that the clashing egos behind the malevolent 33rd America’s Cup will be locking horns in yachts that look utterly fantastical and go like the clappers.

One thing it will not be is boring. No-one’s going to be getting smoke in their eyes.


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