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Gul 2020 LEADERBOARD

America's Cup: A far-off dream but a great challenge

by Mark Reason/Stuff.co.nz 31 Mar 2020 16:34 PDT 1 April 2020
INEOS Team UK with their first AC75 - Britannia © Harry KH / INEOS TEAM UK

“We will come through this and we will all be stronger for it. At times like these we all need a light at the end of the tunnel and, for us, that’s the America's Cup.”

Those are the words of Ben Ainslie, four times Olympic gold medallist, as he looked out from his study on the Isle of Wight, straight out to the sea. The British sailor was feeling the eeriness of the quiet. The stillness that is normally such a soothing solace from the bustle of the world, has become in these pestilent times something more threatening, a sign of solitude and separation, perhaps even of death.

So Ainslie was looking forward to that moment next March, to Auckland, to the city of sails. He was looking forward to New Zealand. He was forward looking to Aotearoa, to the culmination of the America’s Cup, to a world of celebration and hope and new life drunk from the Auld Mug.

And if such fancy seems like a far off dream right now, a challenge that we might not even reach, then surely it is a good challenge. Surely we can take something from so many of these brilliant sailors who overcome the most ridiculous odds, often grappling with death and loneliness whilst hanging off the side of a moaning mast over a seething sea.

We can take some spirit from Conrad Colman, ‘the crazy Kiwi’, who somehow got to the finish line of the last Vendee Globe. During the race he was tossed overboard when the lazy jacks supporting his efforts to fix his sail broke. His auto piloting was disabled when a fire broke out on board.

He was down to his last set of sails for the last third of the race. And then three days from the finish he lost the yacht’s mast when a pin failed.

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