America’s Cup 2021: World media reacts to Team New Zealand defending the Cup

The world media reacts to Team New Zealand’s 7-3 America’s Cup victory over Italian challengers Luna Rossa.

Magnus Wheatley of the Rule 69 sailing blog said this Team New Zealand crew were one of the greatest to lift the Auld Mug.

“Somewhere in New Zealand right now, there are teenagers looking up at this most memorable of America’s Cups who will one day be the Pete Burling or Blair Tuke of their generation. There are future superstars in our midst right now. The 38th or 39th America’s Cup will be their turn. The dynasty is set.

“Burling was on fire. Tuke was coolness personified. Ashby made all the right calls. The crew performed. Every generation has their heroes. These are the America’s Cup champions for 2021 and one of the greatest ever to etch their names on the Auld Mug.”

“Whatever happens, the Cup has a bright future. The Italians will be back. They’re too good now not to but where and when is the question. They can reflect on a campaign that they executed to near-perfection. They played the great game of the Cup admirably, aggressively but with elan and style, winning the hearts of their nation and coming so, so close. Tonight they can reflect on a job well done and leave Auckland with their heads held high.”

Stefano Vegliani of Italian publication OA Sport gave credit to the innovation of Team New Zealand.

“Luna Rossa made an extraordinary America’s Cup campaign, determined, with her head down, not caring about those who didn’t give credit, confident in their development skills. The result of the regattas is not the result of the choices made the week before, but we have to go back a year, perhaps more.

“We must give credit to the New Zealanders for having done an extraordinary job, for having messed around with that strange boat that left everyone speechless when it came out of the shed for the first time. It is incredible that such a small country, where sailing is a national sport second only to rugby, produces incredible innovations such as the AC75 and immediately finds the way to put a futuristic boat in the water by taking a road that no one had thought of.”

Italian Federico Militello wrote in an editorial for OA Sport just how much the dream of winning the event meant to a country ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It was a beautiful dream. We have rocked it for three months, since the World Series in December. Bringing the America’s Cup to Italy, the dream of a lifetime, especially for Patrizio Bertelli. We had never come this close. But once again the dream crashed against the New Zealand wall.”

“…the history of the America’s Cup teaches that the best boat always wins. Unfortunately, Italy has not yet managed to design it. However, it is unfortunate to think that it is only a question of budget. The investments of Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand turned out to be substantially equivalent, around 60-65 million euros. Kiwis can be considered true geniuses of design and engineering: they always manage to propose futuristic solutions towards their opponents, such as the flat and T-shaped foils of this edition.”

“Luna Rossa, and this is his great victory, has above all brought hope and relief to an Italy in tears, bent for over a year by the wounds of a lacerating pandemic.”

“Getting up in the middle of the night and admiring that boat that lightly plowed the ocean on the other side of the world was a small relief, it made us breathe that now lost normality at times. Even for a few hours, the Italians escaped from the torments of everyday life and began to dream, letting themselves be carried away by the blinding glow of the Moon. It is precisely for this reason that we loved Luna Rossa so much. It was good to dream.”

Andrew Das of the New York Times made note of just how unprecedented the 36th America’s Cup was.

“The Kiwis’ victory ended one of the most unusual editions of the America’s Cup, which was first contested in 1851. This year’s races took place without their usual huge crowds of visiting spectators, many of whom had been kept away by strict coronavirus restrictions that had effectively closed New Zealand’s borders to noncitizens. The racing schedule also had to be modified several times to accommodate stringent — and changing — lockdown rules that at times forced delays in the competition.

“The entrants were unlike any that preceded them, too. This year’s America’s Cup was contested by a new class of boat: sleek, 75-foot foiling monohulls which — when raised out of the water and riding above the waves on their spider-like foils — were capable of speeds of as much as 60 miles an hour. The boats did not so much slice through the water as glide above it. And none did that better than Team New Zealand.”

The Telegraph’s Tom Cary asked the question was the 36th America’s Cup actually good to watch.

“It was fun while it lasted (actually not everyone would agree with that, more on which later) but by winning race 10 of the 36th America’s Cup match on Wednesday, Team New Zealand claimed the Auld Mug for the fourth time since 1995. That’s four out of the last seven.

“Given Great Britain have not been able to win one since losing the first in 1851 that just feels greedy. Nevertheless, congratulations are due to Grant Dalton’s syndicate, who proved conclusively they were the best team at AC36.”

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. These boats are undeniably impressive. The marketing of the America’s Cup these days as ‘F1 on water’ is no exaggeration. An army of designers and aerodynamicists – some of them directly employed from F1 – work on these boats for years. The results are spectacular.

“We’re seeing these 75ft boats flying at 30-plus knots upwind. As former America’s Cup yachtsman Ken Read said during Monday’s race commentary. ‘You can’t do that in your motorboat with twin Mercuries.’ At times the racing has been sensational.

“Tuesday’s victory by New Zealand over Luna Rossa, which featured multiple lead changes in shifty winds, was also a cracker. But it is true that the action was also fairly pedestrian at times, with the boat that led off the start very difficult to pass if the wind was constant. And when it dropped below seven knots, and the boats bobbed about helplessly, these highly sophisticated machines didn’t look too clever.”

Steve McMorran of the Associated Press lamented the fact the match was sailed in light breezes.

“With its nation on tenterhooks, Team New Zealand sailed a faultless race Wednesday on a racecourse full of shifts and pitfalls to win the match at its first opportunity.”

“Halfway through the six-leg race New Zealand was 27 seconds ahead. Rounding the last mark it led by 49 seconds and, with no sign of tension on the New Zealand boat, the race was all but over.

“Eventually it may be regretted that all races in the match were sailed in light winds and the full potential of these amazing boats wasn’t seen.

“But there were no regrets for Team New Zealand as St. Patrick’s Day 2021 became a date of importance in the history of the America’s Cup.”

Toby Heppell of Yachting World said the event delivered some interesting racing.

“This Cup will be remembered for several reasons, the Kiwi defense one part, the first showing of the AC75 (which look likely to return for the next event), and crucially for the impressive event run by New Zealand in the midst of a global pandemic.

“It’s been hugely impressive for the country to put on such a smooth event under the circumstances. Now we wait to find out who will be the challenger of record for the 37th America’s Cup, what the boats will be, where the event will be held and, eventually, whether anyone can take the Cup away from a New Zealand team who are starting to look dominant in the oldest trophy in sport.”

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