The past couple of days have not been much fun. I woke up at around 5am on Tuesday and for a minute I thought we were still right in the thick of it. Then it hit me again: we are out of the running for this America's Cup.
It is going to take a while to process but that is sport. If you are going to compete at the highest level, you have to accept the risk that you may not win and if you do not it will really hurt.
Like all Cup campaigns it has been full-on, not just the past six months but the past four years. That said, it has been a huge privilege to have been hosted here in this beautiful country. Given the challenges the world has been facing, that opportunity is not lost on us. Thank you, New Zealand.
We will be back stronger. That may sound like a cliche, but I firmly believe it. If you look at where we are now compared to where we were four years ago after Bermuda, there is a world of difference – our knowledge, our IP, our personnel. The linear progression has been constant. We are a much stronger team now and I have to thank every single team member for their commitment and determination to see this challenge through to the end.
I have to give credit to Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa. The AC75 was their creation and it has proven to be, in my opinion, a perfect embodiment of what the Cup should be about: technology, power, grace, speed and, most importantly, it has the "wow" factor. In some ways, we should not be surprised that we now have the Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa, joining the defender in the Cup match itself. Their understanding of that concept better prepared them to develop a faster package across the wind range and they stepped up their performance on the water to match.
Ourselves and American Magic made considerable gains with our second race boats but it always felt as if we were chasing. That was why we went for an aggressive design. We did not play it safe at all. Perhaps that cost us in the end.
Clearly the Prada Cup final was very one-sided. We cannot hide from that. Our performance in light airs throughout the Challenger series was not good enough. As much as we took satisfaction from the improvements we made after Christmas, the results in the round-robins probably flattered us with the conditions disguising Britannia's inherent weakness. Plus we sailed some good tactical races. I was proud of the way we fought, though, and without giving anything away, because that is our IP, we have a good idea of where we went wrong.
Inevitably there is already talk about what the future might look like for our team and for the America's Cup. I think it is far too early to make any assumptions. Clearly we need to see whether the Kiwis defend, or whether we are suddenly looking at a Cup from an Italian perspective.
What I will say is that we set out on this journey to get the Cup back to Britain for the first time in its 170-year history and we have to persist in achieving that goal. Observing the Kiwi and Italian success in this game, it is clear that continuity over many Cup cycles has enabled consistent development and learning.
Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos have been absolutely fantastic in their backing of the team. Jim was the first guy on the boat after we lost that final race to commiserate with the guys. He is a real sportsman at heart and understands the challenges that come with competing at this level.
Being part of Ineos sports, having access to the Mercedes F1 team and Ineos Grenadiers, as well as the likes of Eliud Kipchoge, is a huge privilege for our team. That shared learning between our sports has huge potential. As a team, we need to tap into that collective experience to learn from our mistakes and ensure that we set the right pathway and culture for future success.
Finally, a huge thank you for all the support we have received from back home in the UK and around the world. These are exceptionally difficult times for so many people but we have been overwhelmed by the messages of support for the team and the interest created by this Cup. We will be back.