After Thursday’s disappointing loss to Team New Zealand, GBR Challenge has upped its gas, beaten the America’s Cup holders Team New Zealand and will meet Prada in the finals
One could sense the frustration after the first match race of the best-of-three series on Thursday. Andy Green helmed the 2000-vintage GBR-52 towards the top mark with a minute’s lead over the 1995-vintage NZL-32, only to collect the top mark round its keel and watch the Kiwis catch up and pass. The incident was all the more disappointing because GBR Challenge’s lead arose from the Kiwis doing exactly the same thing at the first rounding.
Sailing manager Ian Walker must have been at his inspirational best after that race because yesterday saw a transformed GBR Challenge: confident, slick, aggressive and fast. Andy Green danced around Team New Zealand’s Dean Barker to win both prestarts and the younger boat showed the legs she is known to have and took both races.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with today,” fizzed Walker. “I think Andy Green showed a huge amount of character to step in today against Dean Barker, having lost yesterday’s first race. To absolutely stitch Dean up in both starts?well you can’t really ask for more than that.”
Prada’s Luna Rossa surprised no-one by dispatching GBR-41, the 1995 generation boat on a hiding to nothing, with two straight wins yesterday, setting up a final that GBR Challenge head Peter Harrison could barely have dared expect. GBR Challenge will race today against the America’s Cup 2000 finalist Luna Rossa having knocked out back-to-back Cup winners Team New Zealand.
Prada’s strike helmsman Francesco De Angelis was keeping tight-lipped about what he expected in today’s final, sticking to the basics instead. “The racing here is very challenging and fun, and we’re excited about it. Every time you line up on the starting line, you are there to win, so that’s what we hope to do tomorrow.”
The format is best-of-three but with some fairly unhelpful weather forecast, exactly how far into the finals we will get today is another question. If there is racing, GBR Challenge is carrying a huge amount of confidence and momentum into the finals, not to mention the hopes of Britain’s sail racers. The talent is undoubtedly there and the belief is building by the hour.
Make no mistake, beating Luna Rossa in these finals would be huge for GBR Challenge, absolutely massive. Prada’s sailing team has been racing together for four years with a sky’s-the-limit budget on two no-expense-spared fast boats. To beat them after 14 years out of the America’s Cup frame with a comparatively modest budget would send a message rumbling out to challengers and holder alike – the British are coming!