Dear me, all those people who bit down deep into Ineos Team UK and their predicted early departure from the America's Cup must have swallowed an oversize helping of humble pie.
I mean, one of them actually compared Britannia – looking like a completely different boat in dismissing Luna Rossa and American Magic over the last two days – to an ugly British invention from the 50s, an amphibious caravan like a floating brick which could haul itself up to a pacy four knots.
Huh. Wonder who that idiot was? Oh, all right, it was me…
The principal question after Ineos' stunning reversal of form and function: was it foxing or fixing? In other words, did the Brits swing the lead a bit in the pre-Christmas racing or have they, as Sir Ben Ainslie has maintained, pulled off a makeover that fixed many of the problems?
Britannia's woes in the America's Cup World Series looked too dire to be acting. If you are going to con the opposition you are slower than you really are ("sandbagging"), it's probably not really effective to wallow, as Britannia did, like a duck that's eaten too much pond weed.
A big part of the America's Cup is noting what the others are doing and adopting the bits that can make your boat go faster. We know now that these AC75 yachts, just like the foiling catamarans that preceded them, can react quickly to small changes made or, as Oracle Team USA did in San Francisco in 2013, a whole bunch of small changes adding up to a big performance boost.
But that turnaround from Ineos has been simply jaw-dropping. From dog or log to dasher and prancer in three weeks is some achievement. Ainslie said of the work done on Britannia as Christmas was effectively cancelled for his team: "Since the World Series we have a new rudder, a new elevator, a new mast, a new mainsail, a new headsail, we have put aero modifications to the hull and we have changed the system to the hull… so we have been quite busy."
Curiously, he didn't mention the foils. The science behind these things is beyond the meagre scientific capabilities of this observer but it may be the biggest changes have been made there. Certainly the boat seemed to fly better and seemed a touch faster downwind than Luna Rossa and American Magic on Friday.
There have also been no further complaints from Ineos about the Foil Cantilever System (FCS), the mechanism which lifts and lowers the heavy foils – the subject of an outburst from Ainslie, when Ineos were at their lowest point, blaming Team NZ for a shoddy system.
Maybe the mast and mainsail have also seen big improvements made – possibly just from observing what others, particularly Team NZ, have been doing and making alterations.
The big test was in the light airs, where Britannia beat American Magic by a street on Saturday and seemed better than the Americans in getting up on the foils after splashdown. The jury is still out after a patchy wind day and Britannia's hull has been judged by all and sundry as "sticky", hard to lift again when it sags in gentle breezes.
Because the rules forbid wholesale modification of the hulls, that is unlikely to change and – even if Ineos were to win the Prada Cup and take on TNZ – the long range forecast for this La Nina summer is for light winds in March.
First, however, they have to win the Prada Cup and, with the added difficulty of having to declare which set of foils to use well in advance of race day, that will not be easy.
Still, the Brits won many admirers for their control in what was much more classic match racing than many expected on Friday – while Dean Barker and American Magic suffered from a series of bad tactical decisions and, on Saturday, from not being able to get up on their foils as fast as Luna Rossa. Ainslie demonstrably won the starts and his crew were almost flawless in all three races.
Some yachting folk are wondering if the courses are too tight and strangle passing opportunities unless a much faster boat is involved or they pick up a lucky wind shift. It's too early to tell – but, from what we've seen so far, it may be that match racing will still apply and these will not just be drag races or waiting for the other guys to make a mistake and fall off their foils.
All we can say now is that those of us who had the British in an early grave are regretting it. We have to tip our hats to what seems to be a remarkable comeback.
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride.
• Don't forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America's Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.