New Zealand wins America's Cup with Total Focus!
27 June 2017
A Bermudian guy asked me, “Are you a rugby fan?” I told him I wasn't. He explained that New Zealand has what some experts believe is the best rugby team in the history of the sport. He said they have employed a philosophy of “total focus.” It is an attitude that guides everything the team does to prepare. My Bermudian friend said, “I bet Emirates employs the same strategy. They just don't make mistakes.”
I Googled “total focus” and didn't learn much about it but there were references to it with NZ's rugby teams. Whether Team Emirates has employed this strategy or not, my Bermudian rugby friend is correct, the NZ team made no mistakes in the America's Cup final races. They were so dominate that Oracle looked like amateurs out there. I know that sounds harsh but it was that bad of a butt kicking!
Oracle was dominate in the first round of the Louis Vuitton races. The LV races were match races among the 6 boats competing for the America's Cup. This series was quite unusual, the defender, Oracle, competed in the first round. This is the first time in 166 years that the defender participated in the challenger series. The winner of the first round of the LV cup received a one point advantage in the cup finals if they were either the defender or the successful challenger. Oracle had no reason to sandbag, they won the first round and the valuable first point for the final.
New Zealand was very fast in the LV series. The did make mistakes including a spectacular capsize in the pre-start. That dunking caused damage to the wing but it was quickly repaired and NZ was ready for action the following day. Artemis, Sweden's team was strong in the LV races. They were a fan favorite as they have established their permanent America's Cup training camp in Bermuda. Nathan Outteridge, their skipper was the youngest skipper at 26 years old. Their team kept getting faster but NZ prevailed in the final of the LV series.
There isn't much to write about for the AC finals. US, Oracle just kept messing up and didn't have boat speed. It is one thing to have your competitor point higher but when they point higher and go faster, you are not in the game. Problems compounded the first weekend with 4 straight losses.
Oracle was on the water all week working on boatspeed and teamwork. The second weekend saw some improvements but not much. They did appear to have equal boatspeed to NZ, Emirates the final 5 races but NZ was consistently fast and error free. Helmsman, Peter Burling and his team had “total focus” on the task at hand. Their starts were flawless, they won all but two in the final 9 races. Only once did they fall off their foils and slow significantly but still finished ahead of Oracle.
I was critical of GBR skipper, Ben Ainslie (Sir Ben that is) for his erratic steering. Jimmy Spithill, Skipper of Oracle had similar yips in the final races. Jimmy showed no sign of nerves in the LV series.
Was NZ, Emirates sandbagging in the LV series? Did US, Oracle make changes in the wrong direction that killed boat speed? Does the bicycle pedal power of the NZ, Emirates boat trump arm power of all the other competitors? Did Jimmy succumb to pressure? These questions are hard to answer but one thing is for sure, NZ, Emirates raced with “total focus.”