It’s been one week since ORACLE TEAM USA completed what has been called the greatest comeback in sport. Down 8-1 on the scoreboard, the team reeled off an improbable eight consecutive wins to retain the America’s Cup that it first won in 2010.
Ranking this comeback against the biggest ones in other sports makes for interesting bar talk, but is ultimately futile. But however you measure it, winning eight straight match races against a crew with as much quality as Emirates Team New Zealand certainly puts you in the conversation for biggest sporting comeback, and that’s no small thing.
So it’s one week on from the win and what have we learned?
Emirates Team New Zealand returned home heartbroken and disappointed, but buoyed by the overwhelming support of a nation.
Kiwi skipper Dean Barker has worn his heart on his sleeve since returning to Auckland to an enthusiastic welcome and is already talking about what would be necessary to keep Team New Zealand going.
Also looking to get a team up and running is Ben Ainslie, the Brit who helped to orchestrate ORACLE TEAM USA’s win as replacement tactician. Ainslie has been talking up a British challenge and is out stumping for support.
His boss, ORACLE TEAM USA’s CEO Russell Coutts, far from taking a break, is already sailing again. He is at the RC44 regatta in Cascais, Portugal, racing as tactician on Team Italia. Also competing there is Artemis Racing, with Torbjörn Törnqvist and Iain Percy.
Last week, Artemis Racing helmsman Nathan Outteridge returned to his roots with a 5th place finish at the 49er world championships. Not bad for a guy who had only practised for a week or so.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we’ve learned who the challenger of record is for the 35th America’s Cup. The challenge from Hamilton Island Yacht Club marks the return of Australia to the America’s Cup. Coming on the 30th anniversary of the historic win by Australia II in 1983, the challenge brings Australia back to the Cup for the first time since 1999/2000, when the skipper was a fresh-faced 19 year old named Jimmy Spithill.
The challenger of record will work with the defender, in consultation with other potential team, to agree on a vision for the 35th America’s Cup and then on a Protocol for the 35th America’s Cup that translates that vision into rules. This will be done over the coming weeks and months.