Sailing World - - Contents -

O When it’s time to stow my elec­tron­ics, the hooked is­land ap­pears in the win­dow, ringed by a kalei­do­scope of blue: reefs, shal­lows and deep ocean. There’s no mis­tak­ing Ber­muda, and whether I ar­rive by bird or by boat, the place is mag­i­cal, a re­mote des­ti­na­tion not too far away but still in the mid­dle of nowhere. As we cir­cle to land, I get a sweep­ing view, which reaf­firms how small the place re­ally is. That the 35th Amer­ica’s Cup will be hosted here is still hard to fathom.

The seat-belt sign dings, re­mind­ing me to fill out my pink De­part­ment of Im­mi­gra­tion pas­sen­ger form. Un­der the head­ing “Pri­mary Pur­pose of Visit,” there’s the typ­i­cal stuff: va­ca­tion, study, busi­ness. The Amer­ica’s Cup has three of its own check boxes: team, vis­it­ing, busi­ness. This is my first clue the govern­ment of Ber­muda is track­ing every trav­eler and dol­lar of its in­vest­ment in host­ing the big race. In­side the air­port, im­mi­gra­tion kiosks are wrapped in pho­tos of AC45S on Ber­muda’s Great Sound. The ATM is too. Hints of the Cup are ev­ery­where, and it is top-of-mind with ev­ery­one I speak to dur­ing my visit, espe­cially the cab­bies and bar­tenders who stand to make a tidy profit this sum­mer.

This is Ber­muda’s Amer­ica’s Cup, no doubt about it, but there lies the rub for the rest of the Cup’s fans. Months out, every ho­tel is sold out. Ber­muda is booked solid. This 35th edi­tion, there­fore, will be spec­tated by res­i­dents, well­heeled fans, spon­sors, VIPS, and yachties on su­pery­acht row.

For ev­ery­one else, AC35 will be best viewed on-screen. If the broad­cast team car­ries on

The De­fender is sit­ting pretty in Ber­muda, await­ing a wor­thy foe to emerge from an un­pre­dictable chal­lengers se­ries. Get your pop­corn and Wi-fi ready.

Stan Honey’s legacy, the two 25-minute races per day will be fun to watch (in the United States on NBC Sports out­lets) with­out giv­ing up an en­tire sum­mer’s af­ter­noon. In San Fran­cisco, each skip­per wore a mi­cro­phone while rac­ing, and on the Amer­ica’s Cup app, one could tog­gle be­tween skip­pers and lis­ten in. Let’s pray they do so again. Or­ga­niz­ers are not forth­com­ing with broad­cast de­tails, but I’m told at least one crew per boat will be live.

The AC50 is fas­ci­nat­ing, and while it’s nowhere near as breath­tak­ing as the AC72, it is ex­cit­ing to watch, espe­cially when sailed fast and loose on the foils. The more fa­mil­iar crews get with their boats, the more they’ll whip them around the race­course and at each other.

Which of the five chal­lengers can take down Jimmy and the Ma­chine? I’m no gam­bler, but let’s start with Or­a­cle’s base neigh­bor, Softbank Team Ja­pan. Be­hind Dean Barker’s pierc­ing eyes is burn­ing re­demp­tion — strong odds there. Groupama Team France? Its leader, Frank Cam­mas, won the Volvo Ocean Race in one try. Dif­fer­ent gigs, yes, but the French are one heck of a dark horse.

Land Rover BAR won the World Se­ries but was slow in spring scrim­mages. If they’ve bud­geted their de­sign time and money well, leav­ing enough in the kitty, they’ll be fine. They are the home team too, don’t for­get. No pres­sure there.

Emi­rates Team New Zealand dared to be dif­fer­ent with its cy­clists, but opin­ions are di­vided. There’s pent up an­i­mos­ity be­tween the Ki­wis and the De­fender, so should a New Zealand ver­sus Or­a­cle matchup come to be, cue the soap opera.

For the Ki­wis to get to the big dance, they’ll have to go through Artemis. With chem­istry, money, and a pro­duc­tive win­ter spent lin­ing up with Or­a­cle and Softbank, these sailors have mus­cle mem­ory, and they will flex it.

It’ll be an amaz­ing month in Ber­muda and a sailors’ party for sure, and I in­tend to get there a few more times be­fore it ends. I’ll re­port back of­ten, as will our con­trib­u­tors on the ground, so mix up a Dark ’n’ Stormy and book­mark our new and im­proved ex­pe­ri­ence at sail­ing­world.com. Q

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