Back in the early 1990’s I was sent by my company for a two year stint on Wall Street. I had just turned 20 and it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I was put up in Battery Park downtown in the most beautiful apartment and woke every day looking out to the Statue of Liberty. My balcony at the back gave a stunning view of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, where a decade later I would sadly lose so many dear friends and colleagues. Work was really tough. I had a posh British accent and was wet behind the ears but the FX markets in those days were like the Wild West. Imagine the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, it was madder than that. Insanely so. I loved it.
Down in Battery Park there’s a marina and back in my day they had J24’s that they raced on weekdays, Wednesdays from recollection. I was in a bar called The Pipeline overlooking the harbour one evening, got talking to a skipper and ended up doing bow for the next two years – summer, winter, rain or shine. It was a laugh. The beers after were better than our sailing if I’m truly honest but I was in the scene. Sailing does that.
The guy I sailed with, I won’t mention his name, was connected to the New York Yacht Club. I think his father was a member and one summer me and the crew got invited to Newport to do some sailing. We hung out at the unbelievable summer house of the Club where I was too terrified to talk to anyone. The patrons were lovely though. Welcoming. They couldn’t do enough for us. Nothing was too much trouble. It was a magical, privileged time for me and the New York Yacht Club made it. Years later I raced for them in a regatta called the Viyella Cup and again, they were courteous, polite and bloody good sailors. I never got to go to the clubhouse in West 44th Street in Manhattan and it’s a lifelong ambition to do so. My club in Cowes has a reciprocal arrangement so one day I hope to walk those venerable, hallowed corridors and have a drink or two at the bar after marvelling at the model room. Bring on the vaccine.
On the evidence of today in Auckland though, entry to the Club could be about to become a lot harder. Security might be a whole heap tighter. Letters of introduction will need vetting and scrutiny. American Magic is in this regatta big time and are quickly becoming the favourites to challenge Team New Zealand in March.
If it wasn’t for a foil issue, they had the beating of the Kiwis today. They look fast. They look highly motivated and they have an axis of genius in Terry Hutchinson, Paul Goodison and Dean Barker. Why Goodie is on the American boat and not Ineos tells you all you need to know about the British campaign. And it’s all to the benefit of the New York Yacht Club. A life membership awaits Goodie if they pull this off and I’ll be honest, I’m awestruck by the Kiwis but I’m cheering louder and louder for the Americans.
But I suspect it’s not just me. And I have an evidence of sort to prove it…
Last night I went onto the UK Helly Hansen website – they are the makers of the American Magic gear – to see if I could buy some kit. I am such a sad fanboy of the Cup. And it’s pretty much sold out across the board. I couldn’t believe it. Am I on to something here? Has the UK jettisoned Ineos so quickly and switched sides to our greatest ally on the world stage? It certainly feels like it. Turncoats the lot of us. Shameful!
But for the record American Magic – I am size medium.
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