Artemis Racing boss Paul Cayard believes his struggling syndicate can still win the America's Cup, and feels the resolve in his squad will transform into competitiveness.
The May 9 training death of Andrew Simpson has affected the whole regatta, but obviously brought the biggest question marks over his Swedish team.
Can his men handle the mental hurdles of losing a team-mate? Can they build a second boat that will prove to be strong and fast? Can they learn its intricacies quickly enough to be a force in the challenger series and, ultimately, be good enough to take the ultimate step?
American Cayard, a veteran of this cut-throat competition, doesn't back away from any of those challenges.
"Of course I think we can win, and everybody on this team believes we can win," he told The New York Times.
"Like with all things, you take the good with the bad and the difficult with the easy," he said. "Life is variable that way. So this is a challenging one, and we're certainly not done with this yet. We're focused on getting on the racetrack. I could be sitting here in two months saying, ‘Man, can you believe how that all turned out?' I think that's the spirit of a competitor. It's just never over until it's truly over, and we're nowhere near being done with this thing yet.
"The events of May 9 were a huge setback, not only from the human side, but also from the physical side," he said.
"We lost a boat, and we lost a wing, so we are really up against it in this goal of getting us a boat and a wing on the racecourse. It's a steep hill, and it's a huge challenge. But our options were to keep going with the challenge or say, ‘We'd had enough.' And nobody really felt like saying, ‘We're not going to give it our all.' That's the kind of people we are, and most successful people are."
Part of Cayard's immediate focus after the accident was to check the confidence of his crack afterguard, Australian Nathan Outteridge, who was at the helm on that fateful day, and the skipper Iain Percy (Great Britain), both Olympic gold medallists. Percy was Simpson's sailing partner in small boats and a lifelong friend.
Neither wanted to step aside in these circumstances, a mark of a team who clearly feel they have a special point to prove.
"Nathan is young, and he was in a position of responsibility, just like Iain Percy was, well, just like we all were," Cayard said.
"I spent time with him and he always seemed solid to me, and obviously a person of that kind of success has a certain amount of confidence about him. But he's prudent, and so I think, no, there never was a hesitation there. He was 100 per cent in."
Artemis could have its second boat in the water this week and face a race against time to be up to speed in a month, trialling while Louis Vuitton Cup rivals, Team NZ and Luna Rossa, match race.
French structural engineer Herve Devaux had been involved in safety-proofing the new boat. It had been put through stress tests, some of which had been suggested by rivals.
"We won't cut any corners, though, for safety," Cayard said.
- © Fairfax NZ News