The experts agree, this was the best Cup race since the last race in 1983


Was the third race of the 32nd America’s Cup the best ever? In terms of racing, flukey though the winds were, there are those who say yes, except for the last race of the 1983 Cup when Australia II took the lead – and the Cup – on the final leg but that was only because so much was at stake. This was vintage AC racing and had even the most jaundiced and cynical hacks sitting on the edges of their seats throughout.

But the final two minutes, as Emirates Team New Zealand eked out the narrowest of leads having been behind at the last mark, were as nerve racking as you’ll ever witness. This was truly the AC race of this century, if not the last as well.

You know the result and probably some of the drama behind that result. Having notched up an unheard of 1 minute 23 second lead at the end of the first beat ETNZ watched as Alinghi slowly reeled them in but they still had a healthy lead at the leeward mark. It was then that they snatched defeat from the near-certain jaws of victory.

A last minute shift, a botched gybe, an even more botched spinnaker drop that ended up with swathes of red spinnaker cloth blanketing the forward end of the cockpit, winding itself round winch drums, tucking into fairleads so that ETNZ could not fully sheet the genoa, forcing them to hold onto the unfavoured starboard tack while they sorted it out and leaving Alinghi with a clear course ahead.

And by the top mark Alinghi had a narrow lead, surely unassailable in the light breeze. No. ETNZ took the right of the course, Alinghi the left and it was the Kiwis’ turn to snatch victory from certain looking defeat.

Today America’s Cup history was made. But who was the real winner? A Kiwi journalist said that the Kiwis might have won the race but the real winner was the sport of sailing.

Picture shows ETNZ trying to unravel their spinnaker problems