America's Cup 2013, the incredible comeback of BMW Oracle
After what happened in the 34th edition, the problems during the preparations for the 35th America's Cup will bring a smile to your face. Initially, the role of Challenger of Record is played by Club Nautico from Rome, the club chosen by Mascalzone Latino for the new challenge, but eight months after the presentation of the protocol, the team led by Vincenzo Onorato withdraws.
It was not the only registered syndicate to give up, largely forced to withdraw due to budget issues: in the end, in the waters of San Francisco, three teams disputed the Louis Vuitton Cup: the Swedes of Artemis Racing headed by Paul Cayard, the Italians of Luna Rossa (under the pennant of Circolo Vela Sicilia) and the New Zealanders of Emirates Team New Zealand. It was a shame, since another six teams, even including one from South Korea, had participated in the regattas of the newly-born America's Cup World Series – a multi-stage championship with 45-foot catamarans.
The success in Valencia, in 2010, convinced the holders of BMW Oracle Racing to focus once again on catamarans, but this time in a new version. This is how the AC 72 came to be: approximately 22 metres long, 14 metres wide, with a 40-metre rigid wing mast for a sail surface of approximately 300 square metres. In an attempt to contain gigantism and expenses, the crew was reduced to just eleven men, fitted out with a helmet and racing driver overalls.
On the other hand, the speeds are incredible, perhaps too much so for a race that has always focused more on tactics that on pure performance: during training, the expenses of this are borne dramatically by the Englishman Andrew ‘Bart' Simpson, who drowned in the capsizing of Artemis Racing, sailing at more than 40 knots during training.
Luna Rossa, now in the hands of Rimini-born Max Sirena, does its duty: in the semi-final, it gets rid of the Swedish team at 4-0 but once again ends up against the Kiwi ‘wall': with a generous 7-1, Emirates Team New Zealand takes home yet another Louis Vuitton Cup. The crew headed by the experts Grant Dalton and Dean Barker seems to be unbeatable, and the boat shows absolutely no weaknesses.
A legendary comeback
The clash of the titans begins on 7th September 2013. The predictions appear to be right, especially as BMW Oracle Racing is burdened by two penalty points for having violated the rating rules in the AC45 competition. In the space of six days, Emirates Team New Zealand reaches 6-0.
The awakening of Russell Coutts and James Spithill's crew leads to the neutralisation of the penalty and the first point. In any case, at the end of the eleventh regatta, the result seems impossible to overturn (8-1) but too much wind prevents the immediate dispute of the next stage, which could have delivered the trophy to the challenger.
A sign of destiny? Evidently yes: BMW Oracle Racing, from 19th September onwards, becomes another boat altogether and starts to make a comeback, point after point, until it reaches a tie with a double success on the same day. It's the resounding 8 to 8: a book entitled “Comeback” published in 2016 attributes the recovery of Ellison's boat to a ‘trick' within the limits of the regulations, used on the wing sail. This may well be, but it is a fact that after the decisive regatta – of the final 9-8 for BMW Oracle Racing – no protests were raised by the losing team. With one of the most incredible comebacks (or debacles, if you consider it from the Kiwis' perspective) in the history of this sport, the America's Cup remains in San Francisco.