Hats off to the Squadron and its membership. The crunch came and they played like the gentlemen they are. In fact they played an absolute blinder. Concerned? Yes and rightly so but the fact that it was a packed audience must have resonated deeply with Dalton, Burling, the Commodore and Kevin Shoebridge. The Cup matters immensely to everyone who attended last night’s meeting reflecting the wider Kiwi concern in the public. This is their Cup and you couldn’t have wanted for a better expression of unity and togetherness than how the membership responded.
Quite honestly, this is the Kiwi spirit of team-work that the rest of the world fears and underestimates at its peril. What the Squadron members conveyed to everyone looking in was remarkable. There are no reports of cheap shots or back-biting and no fuel into the rumour-mill – that’s just not the way that Kiwis respond and they are to be applauded wholeheartedly.
Their appreciation of a very difficult situation for those charged with the custodianship of the America’s Cup was immense. Their understanding of the difficulties being faced down by Dalton, Young and the Trustees was exemplary. It’s a club you and I would join in a heartbeat given half a chance. The spirits of the greats was in that room. Impressive beyond belief. Sir Peter Blake would have been proud.
And all credit to Grant Dalton for fronting up. That’s leadership right there out of the top drawer. You know it when you see it and there isn’t a chink in that man’s armour. Us supporters of the challengers were expecting a ruckus, what we got was a declaration of all out war – you want the Cup, come and win it in our backyard, we’ll find a way, and it’s both admirable and daunting to feel the flame of Kiwis on the ropes but slugging hard.
Yes it’s an impossible situation but on that showing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has just made securing sponsorship dollars for Team New Zealand one hell of a lot easier. They’ve lit a pathway and shown a unity that ticks so many boxes in the corporate world and I hope the team successfully concludes a deal with the government and then goes like fury after sponsors and billionaires, safe in the knowledge that their home club is full-square behind them. That’s powerful. Hugely powerful and a negotiating chip of the highest value.
This wouldn’t happen in the UK, I can tell you. It wouldn’t happen in America either and it probably wouldn’t happen in Italy. We’d see the in-fighting in full scope. We’d have recriminations and threats of law suits with loose-lips all round. Hissy fits would be thrown and jumped-up buffoons would be replaying the nitty gritty of every word of the Deed of Gift as an almost intellectual game of ping pong minus cash to back up the harsh words. What the Squadron members did was send a message and the world listened. It’s what makes Kiwis the winners they are and I have the upmost respect for what we just witnessed.
Where to now? Well let’s see where the government discussions go. Usually with administrations the deal is done with seconds left on the clock. If it’s to be done, that’s what I suspect will happen late on Thursday evening. A deal to host the Match in Auckland after a worldwide challenger series that included the Defender would be a decent and utterly spectacular, ambitious plan. It would work just fine, I sense, for Auckland too and allow everyone to breathe a little.
The Cup is the property of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and it has been hard-earned and well deserved by its exemplary sporting team. It should stay that way until someone comes and wins it – and a global circus would be terrific to drum up the sponsorship cash and drive more eyeballs into this tremendous sporting spectacle. Let’s get it done and move on with cost controls, boat limitations, gender diversity, sustainability and real hope for the future.
Well done to the Squadron – you just took the wind from everyone’s sails.