Today New Zealand won the Americas Cup again and I’m feeling emotional.
I had nothing to do with them winning, yet there I was at 3:30am, Brisbane time, listening to Peter Montgomery paint a clear picture through his skilful choice of words, with the iHeart radio App and the Bluetooth bud in my left ear.
At the same time, I was watching and listening to livesaildie, Suellen’s live Facebook feed relaying what she was seeing on TV with a keen crowd of supporters at the Royal Akarana Yacht club in Auckland.
I probably commented a bit much on the live Facebook feed, the need to be a part of the moment Emirates Team New Zealand, against the odds, snatched back ownership of the Americas Cup.
Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of why a large percentage of Kiwis from a small nation like New Zealand gets so worked up about the sporting side of sailing.
Nah scrub all that. I don’t want to lose your attention with a bunch of boring history. Go and research it after you’ve read this post if you’re that keen.
This trophy is the oldest in international sport, dating back to 1851. The competition for the “Auld Mug” today, represents the highest level of match racing where technology secrets, team and talent get to shine on a world stage.
The Americas Cup has only ever been won by a country other than America four times, once by Australia and three times by New Zealand.
It’s enough to say the Americas cup is old-as and bloody hard to win.
It certainly looks from the outside we’re boating mad.
With 16,000km or 10,000 miles of coastline and the furthest point from the sea only 119 km or 74 miles, then try adding to those numbers all the lakes and rivers, it’s no wonder we love boats.
Sure, we’re not all sailors. That doesn’t matter. Many of the skills you learn in any boat are transferable and stay with you the rest of your life. The more variety of boats you climb aboard and time spent afloat, the deeper your knowledge becomes.
When our top New Zealand teams take on the world, in boats, we as a nation have a instinctive understanding of what they have done to attain that level of skill.
With only four million people in New Zealand, we’re perceived to be punching above our weight on the international stage and that feels good. The number of Kiwis that get right behind the aquatic athletes showing massive support, is I suspect, relatively higher than other countries.
Yes, a large percentage of New Zealanders are boating mad. Other New Zealanders, not perpetually mad, but knowledgeable enough to at least understand boats. Ask around, you’d be hard pressed to find an adult Kiwi who hasn’t had some experience on at least one boat. It’s these people who become huge supporters and there’s lots of them sharing the pride when we are wining.
What is it about yacht racing that can get a whole country worked up?
I recon it’s a whole bunch of things people can relate to and identify as important life skills.
Racing yachts, fast tracks learning that goes beyond sailing by:
The list goes on and on, you get the idea.
Much of what we learn racing yachts, makes us better people. We don’t necessarily like the lessons we are dealt, but given time, we learn.
The skipper that yells at his crew all the time or repeats orders without giving the crew time to react, soon learns that finding good loyal crew is hard. Many of those skippers learn to use the right leadership style for the right situation. Using the right leadership style for the right situation is also good business leadership.
The crew member that keeps knowledge to themselves and fails to teach others, soon finds things start to break, or worse people get hurt. Some learn to share knowledge and cross train for the good of the team. They earn respect through teaching.
Racing yachts teach life skills. Transferable skills that can be taken back to the work place. Skills that can make nations great.
For the solo racers, they learn to be brutally honest with themselves.
That’s what I believe.
The goal has been achieved. We [New Zealand] won the Americas Cup for the third time.
Acknowledging the coordinated effort of hundreds of people that helped Emirates Team New Zealand to win the holy grail of match racing through celebrations is important.
Taking time to savour the glory fuels the next phase.
We’ve done it before, like no one else, defended the Cup. Can we do it again?
When the celebrations die down, the leaders and financial supporters that make incredible happen, start the process all over again. Taking stock of what went well, what didn’t. Planning the next steps for the good of the sport and the nation.
Right now, I’m going to celebrate by knocking off the miniature bottle of Black Heart rum my Mum gave me when we won the Auld Mug in 1995, the first time.
We missed all the 1995 Americas Cup races as we sailed to Tonga from New Zealand with Kim and Tony Brewer on their Pacific 38 Mk2 “Navire”.
To finish this, I’m going to use two words.
Thank you [ETNZ].
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