“Christmas is over and business is business,” so said Wall Street’s famous mythical corporate raider Gordon Gekko. And with some very large, high-rolling whales swimming into Auckland as the summer heat rises over the Hauraki Gulf, the sprats are quite rightly getting scared witless. The tide is going out and we will see who is swimming naked very shortly. But Grant Dalton has hatched a plan and it’s a big plan. It’s a plan you conceive when you’re pushed into a corner and when you do that to a Kiwi, they come out swinging. The asset strippers had better swim carefully. Dalton is fighting back.
So it’s completely understandable to see the Kiwis canvassing for host city bids in a roll of the dice to try and keep Team New Zealand alive once this Cup cycle is over. Grant Dalton is doing what the very best corporate leaders that have morals and dignity do – he’s protecting his workforce. Dalts wants to be able to look squarely into the eyes of his team members from top to bottom, from the rockstars to the man on the door at the base or the till worker in the team shop and say; “I’m doing everything I can to protect you and your family.” For that he deserves respect. He has mine and I sincerely hope he’s successful. The Cup needs Team New Zealand. Period.
It’s a really tricky situation for Team New Zealand. They have the best team, the best designers, the best teamwork and the best culture. Apparently they have the best chefs too. And they are pretty much unbeatable. But against them they have a deteriorating global backdrop, a government that would love to support but politically has a load of other issues to sort out and an ugly circling mob with a money-no-object approach and an appetite to take advantage. They can smell the blood in the water.
But one thing that Team New Zealand does have is huge support from the nation – its most loyal fans – you know, the ordinary man on the street that proudly buys his kids an ETNZ T-shirt and treats himself to a team cap. The ones waving the flags at dock-out. Those in the bars in Wellington, Otago, Gisborne, Napier or Harihari that are quietly glued to the racing. The kids in school that are surfing the net in their lunchbreak to read the latest news on Stuff or the Herald (or maybe Rule69?). That means something. I’m not talking about the shouty message-boarders or the opinionated, agenda-driven media. This is real people.
Forget the idiot billionaires and the posers. It’s the ordinary, quiet person who just loves to see his team taking on the world and winning that matters. The ones who drape the flag outside their window every morning to show support. The garage worker who’s giving a free MOT every time Team New Zealand wins a race (he’s going to be busy) and the office worker who throws a sickie on the afternoon of the first race of The Match. This is their Cup. Their team. This is why the apex of sport exists. It’s the passion and pride that it instils in everyday people from the Prime Minister to the busker. Don’t get sucked into the money game and loaded dice of those that wish to strip away the talent for their own ends. This matters to New Zealand and it’s why Grant Dalton is fighting so hard. He gets it. He carries the legacy of Sir Peter Blake with aplomb.
The Kiwis I know come from all walks of life and every end of the pay scale and social pecking order. The most passionate ones are those that will tell you quietly, and at length, over a cold beer and a barbecue just how proud they are that New Zealand, the little country at the bottom of the world, is not only the kings of every game with an oval ball but they also went into the lion’s den of technology, dived into the cesspit of excess in the America’s Cup and came up not just a bit ahead, but a generation ahead.
I’ve personally seen that pride and it’s infectious. This is worth fighting for believe me and if Grant Dalton pulls off a funding deal that creates a travelling circus of events but keeps the Cup contest in Auckland and a Team New Zealand that can keep on competing and showing the world how it’s done, it will be his crowning legacy. Good on yer. This is Dalton’s gift to New Zealand and it’s remarkable in its ambition.
Arise Sir Grant. And you know what? He’s going to pull this off – just watch.
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