Monday, July 2, 2007

Defending the Cup

What can a press guy do on a day with no racing except sit around the Media Center and fustigate? The 32nd America's Cup has brought us the most hard-fought contest since 1983, and the first in boats that are so close in performance. I wrote about that yesterday with great enthusiasm. On Tuesday we will have another attempt to sail Race 7—only the second Race 7 ever sailed in the Cup, but now that it's a best-of-nine with the score 4-2 Alinghi, it's not a decider unless Alinghi wins.

And if Alinghi wins, the Cup stays in Europe and goes another step toward becoming a pro circuit but, as ever, unique among sporting events. There being no overall governing body, the development will be driven by the defender, who has a hip-pocket challenge standing by from Desafío Español, meaning that it is very likely the next Cup match will take place in Valencia and will be run entirely by the defender, meaning that once again the challengers are not in control of the challenger selection racing.

Perhaps it will be otherwise, but that's the view from here. There are any number of issues that derive from having a defender-governed challenger selection, so the eventual publication of the protocol for America's Cup 33 will be a matter of great interest.

As will the independence of jury and race committee.

The astute reader will note that I have left extra space for reading between the lines.

Meanwhile, I've watched for months as the signage around town has evolved from "Alinghi & us" to "Who will challenge Alinghi?" to this sign that I found today a couple of blocks from home: "The final duel." I guess it's really the end, almost.

Race 7 on Tuesday, with a seabreeze in the forecast. It's do or die for Team New Zealand. Alinghi can close this out with one more win, which raises the question, how many more times do I get a crack at the press pool and the daily prizes from Louis Vuitton--unless NZL 92 catches fire, probably the last Louis Vuitton prizes this event will ever see—Kimball