Team New Zealand is like a proud lioness prowling her pen whilst the cubs play out on the Hauraki Gulf. She looks magnificent, mighty even. Cruising around, going through the motions – a powerful beast, muscular and angular, poised to strike at a moment’s notice. It’s impressive, highly impressive. I watched the below video for 23 minutes from Justin Mitchell’s YouTube channel last night like an eager cub, with the high-minded intention of peering deep into the Kiwi’s soul and unravelling the DNA of the team. I love this game. I love looking at and analysing footage trying to appreciate the details. And you know what? I found it. I know the secret of Team New Zealand. It’s so obvious.
A bit like yourself, I was “easily distracted” at school and concentrating for 23 minutes is just beyond me. I can’t help but let my mind wander, ‘wonder’ even, from the task at hand and within five minutes I’m marvelling at the colour of the sea, picking out fancy properties on the shoreline, wondering why that tree sticks out more than the others, considering just how fast those chase boats are going or where that container ship is headed for and what cargo it’s carrying. I just can’t help myself. If you get it, you’ll know what I mean.
And this video is absolutely brilliant for day-dreamers like me (and probably you) because it shows why Team New Zealand has a talent pool of enviable quality to select from. Right from the get-go (I’ll spare you 23 minutes of ‘watching paint dry’ as my family say), it’s there.
Te Rehutai is blasting across the Huaraki Gulf and captured beautifully is an International Moth at full plane blasting across its stern. It’s awesome. Then scrub forward to the five minute mark and you’ll see a little fleet of OK dinghies close-hauled racing their guts out. And at about the same time, you’ll see two more International Moths – one doing a San Francisco roll after a capsize and the other powering upwind, its black laminate sails shimmering beneath summer skies, blue water and a perfect 15 knot breeze. In the distance is the ultimate power of Team New Zealand and what a spectacle. What a bloody spectacle. It’s just astonishing
Remember this is Tuesday. What were you doing on Tuesday afternoon? I certainly wasn’t out sailing and doubt whether I would be in the height of summer. Life is different down in New Zealand and the talent machine just can’t help but turn out the next Burling, Tuke, Coutts or Blake. It’s in their DNA in the way that Brazil turns out top footballers, Italians turn out amazing chefs or the Welsh produce great rugby players. It’s embedded deep in the culture. Fabulous to see. Get me on that plane out there, sell the house, ship the boat, embrace the culture. It’s beautiful – or Ataahua as the Maoris say.
But whilst my romanticism of a life under the long white cloud knows no bounds, overnight things have turned up a notch in the America’s Cup with reports that the Italians have fallen out with Team New Zealand. Not sure just how much of this is click bait as Max Sirena – yes he who has allegedly competed in the Cup since 1851 – is so adept at putting his foot in it and every word is hung on by a rampant media but the temperature is rising.
He’s tweaking the tail of the lioness and can expect full bore in return from Grant Dalton and the lads. Sirena’s gripe is that the dice are loaded in New Zealand’s favour and he’s realising that the Kiwis are the masters of the Cup game. What did he expect? This is the America’s Cup and if you want to play at this level then you have to expect a fight. Team New Zealand is there to be beaten but you’ve got to be at the very top of your game to get anywhere close. Apparently their relationships is broken beyond repair. Ah diddums.
To be honest, I’ve been expecting an Italian melt-down for a while. They can’t help themselves. Never could. It’s a miracle that they lasted this long before the Mediterranean temperament emerged – and believe me, that temperament is volatile. Sirena’s been needling and tweaking in recent weeks with some absurd claims of speed and ability. My advice to the Prada team would be to zip it and do your talking on the water.
Sirena knows better than anyone, having been a Team New Zealand manager in the last Cup, just how hard they fight and what the competition means to them. Don’t just say what you think the boss wants you to say. You’re better than that and the detrimental effect on the team translates into the Prada camp morphing into the bad boys of the Cup. Dangerous game to play and you don’t see the American Magic guys doing this. Professional. Calm. Quiet. And white-hot competitive. Perhaps Prada’s belief is ebbing away. It’s a curious media strategy that Sirena is pursuing.
But from a pundits viewpoint, it’s great to see the competition revving up. It has all been a bit nice up to this point. The pairings have been announced for the Prada Cup and poor Ineos have to face the Magic Team in the first flight. Tough, tough, tough but imagine what a win would do for the team. Game on.
Tēnā koutou – thank you in Maori. This is awesome.
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