Summer 2003


Commodore’s Bit
Americas Cup
ATVSC Meeting
Bewl Water Visit
Commodores Quiz
Easter Egg Trophy
Hampton Regatta
Health and Safety Plan
Kitchen Skylight Removed
Jazz and BBQ program
Mid Thames Trophy
No Sailing = A lesson
Not just boats that rot
Open Weekend
Painshill Park Visit
Safety Boat Service
Sailing Report
SigneTs at Paxton Lakes
Regatta & ST program
Social Calendar program
Start of Season Party
Working Party

Americas Cup 2003 - Pat Irving

I have been lucky enough during the last three Americas Cups, to be in New Zealand.

The Kiwi's initially took the cup from the Americans in San Diego, they then successfully defended it in the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland in 2000, and this year they lost it to the Swiss syndicate.

The New Zealanders are fanatical about their sailing; Akland is called the 'City of Sails'. Many of them start in a P Class dinghy and it is said that if you can sail these you can sail anything. Many youngsters build their own boats and you do not have to have a lot of money to sail in New Zealand, clubs are everywhere. With a changeable climate it makes for exciting sailing and a good grounding for the up and coming sailors.

The other factor which has to be seen to be believed is the fervour which grips the country when one of their own is taking part in sports somewhere.

They really support their sportsmen whether it's Rugby, Golf or Sailing or whatever. The TV coverage is amazing, all the races are shown live on TV in their entirety with on board cameras, helicopter shots etc. and with commentators who really know what their talking about. Most of them have sailed the world and taken

part in the Admirals Cup, One Ton Cup and Cowes Rolex Races etc. They explain the tactics and the strategist's decisions during races. The computer graphics are perfect for this sort of presentation.

They have a 'wag' called Peter Montgomery who is the anchor man (pun not intended) who has marvelous enthusiasm and a wonderful turn of phrase, he's a Brian Johnston of cricket or John Motson or Murray Walker of motor racing (but he doesn't make so many mistakes!) The TV coverage over here is rather like watching paint dry. Anyone who watched the highlights of the Americas Cup races on Eurosport from October last year to March this year will know what I mean. Once GBR was out of the running the programme with Peter Snow and Co. disappeared, he was an odd choice for it anyway with his 'swingometer' voice.

The two stars of the sailing in New Zealand, Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth, won the cup for New Zealand under Peter Blake's management. They were a superb team and successfully defended the 'Auld Mug' in 2000, but then everything came apart. They were headhunted by the Swiss syndicate along with five or six of their original team, there was a great feeling of treason about the defections. You can't blame them for being lured by the millions and Coutts and Butterworth had an absolutely blank sheet, not to say a blank cheque to begin with all over again. Whatever they wanted they got, so having won it for New Zealand they went ahead and won it for Switzerland.

By the time I arrived in New Zealand this January there were various campaigns going on. Flags stating "I'm loyal" were competing for positions with others saying "Blackheart" or "Traitor", feelings were running high against the defectors. Huge crowds turned out to cheer and wave the black boat out each morning and an 'All Blacks Haka' was danced on the quayside every time the Swiss boat 'Alinghi' put out.

Coutts and Butterworth team were of course a class act, and won every race. It was their home water that they had sailed on all their lives. They had superb back-up and shore teams and suffered no structural damage to their boat that had bedeviled the New Zealand team. It was plain sailing and the whole of New Zealand went into mourning! Team NZ was, in my opinion, beaten by mega-bucks. I don't know whether they will have another go but I really hope they do.

Switzerland, as you may have noticed, is short on coast line, so I wonder where the next confrontation will be. Wherever it is it will be interesting to see if the Swiss-Kiwis will be there to defend their cup?