Bubbly or Bust

A weekend off doing dull but mightily necessary family stuff, disconnected from the internet, out of the loop, glorious. I should do it more often. Many wish I did. So, what did I miss? Quite a lot apparently. Reviewing the newsflow on Sunday evening and the one thing that jumped out at me was the stunning victory by John Gimson and Anna Burnet at the Nacra 17 World Championship in Oman – goodness me, sailing in the Gulf, where are all you armchair protesters?

But what really struck me is just how relentless Gimson & Burnet are being with their sailing. Having secured silver at Tokyo 2020 just a few months ago, the pair haven’t stopped. Greece to win the European title was the first stop and now a successful defence of the world title. This is how you win gold medals.

They say in Boxing that belts are won in the gym. The 5am morning runs. The sapping bag work. The dreaded strength training. The push ups. The pull-ups. The crunches and the evening cool-down 5k before chicken and rice and early bed. In sailing, staying on the circuit, determining to do better is how you win and I just loved it when John said: “There isn’t that much time before Paris 2024, There’s been so little racing over the past 18 months, we’re taking every opportunity we’ve got. We love what we do.”

©Anna Suslova

Loving what you do is key. Congratulations to them both. Marseille beckons and I’d lay a pretty penny that ultimate Olympic glory will be theirs with an attitude like this. Brilliant sailing.

And whilst on the subject of brilliant sailors, I have a new role model to aspire to in the form of Olympic coach Jon Emmett who won the Laser Radial Apprentice Masters Championships down in Barcelona not by a bit but by a country mile.

An almost embarrassing tally of 11 aces and a second (what happened Jon?) is a Slingsby-esque statement of brilliance. Fabulous result in the rejuvenated Laser class that is just flourishing beyond all recognition – and I know why – great boats, great fleet, great people, amazing sailing and real fun. Buy a Laser if you want to feel 20 years younger. Just do it. Even Chairman Tom Ehman sails one…and the scribes challenge is on for next year’s world’s.

©Studio Borlenghi

So amidst all this high-performance sailing, the dull thud of the America’s Cup creeps into my inbox with several emails from the land of the long white cloud updating me on the latest (thank you – you know who you are) and I have to say, it’s starting to look binary. The members of the RNZYS are revolting, and no I’m not casting pejorative judgement here, they are actually, in a gentleman’s way asking for resolutions to be debated on December 9th after the club’s AGM to insist that the Cup be held in Auckland.

On one level that’s right. On another it’s whistling into a howling gale. Rather than lobby the under-fire governors of the club and the sporting team, wouldn’t the more connected members be better off lobbying the government? Save their ire for those in real power. Those can actually make a difference.

The club doesn’t have the money so can’t wave a magic wand. The team, Emirates Team New Zealand, has been absolutely clear that it doesn’t have the money at home so this effectively comes down to the machinery of state to sort out.

Deals with governments are rarely done in plain sight and are never done until two minutes to apocalypse. As the clock ticks down to that exact moment and everyone gets their knickers in a twist of politics and he-said, she-said whilst the lawyers rub their grubby hands in glee, the collateral damage could be mighty. The future of Team New Zealand is hanging by a thread.

©Studio Borlenghi

“There needs to be a reality check in respect to a New Zealand based AC37 Match. ETNZ needs to secure funding, with local and central Government support, to hold this event in Auckland. Unless this happens, we need to consider offshore venues. The consequences of not doing so are potentially dire – no cup defence at all, and giving the America’s Cup back having been unable to stage a defence and meet our obligations under the Deed of Gift. This means the loss of the America’s Cup, the loss of our Team New Zealand, and the potential loss of future America’s Cup challenges from the RNZYS, and most likely New Zealand.”

Wow. Strong words you would think. But utterly inevitable. You can see a train when it’s coming and this one has been signalled from Trumpton. It’s the nuclear option designed for maximum damage, striking right at the heart of the revolutionaries but calculated to jolt the government into defibrillatory action whilst prodding the members into a nationalistic corner. Agree or we’re done. Judging by the mood of those that took the time to email me over the weekend, it’s Auckland or nothing but I do wonder whether they’ve realised the implications of the ‘nothing’ option. It’s very real.

©Studio Borlenghi

A Kiwi implosion is a humiliation. Grant Dalton walking, or being forced away, would be a capitulation. The crazys would be in the house and AC37 will simply not happen. The Cup will be handed back – to whom is a question mark – New York courts perhaps? The previous holders? The Challenger of Record? Who knows…but what a mess.

The Kiwi Home Defence is a busted flush of funding without Grant Dalton’s undeniable fund raising abilities (and they are pretty clear on that) so that’s not going to be the answer. The only way I can see a way out of this mess, if it’s to be in Auckland, is for the Kiwi state to sit up, get on the front foot, recognise the impasse, see the massive loss of face that’s about to be enacted on the country and its marine industries, tourism, employment, national psyche, pride and do something.

Quite frankly the RNZYS membership can do and say whatever it likes but it’s a three-way decision now – the Government pays up or the Cup goes overseas or it’s Game Over. There’s nothing else. There’s no middle path to be forged. There’s no stone left to upturn. Over to you Jacinda although they’ve been abundantly clear that no more money is available and no re-negotiation is possible. Game Over looks like a real possibility now.

And if it is, my goodness it will be decades to recover from this. The loss of status will be more acute than possibly imaginable. It’s like a tramp dining at the Ritz and going back to a cardboard shelter with stale champagne breath. This isn’t pretty. This isn’t edifying. This isn’t how it was meant to happen but Kiwi yachting is in a moment now. It really isn’t a game anymore. It’s getting serious. Fairy tale endings aren’t looking likely. An implosion could be but a few weeks away.

As Margaret Thatcher famously said: “Watch your thoughts, for they will become actions. Watch your actions, for they’ll become… habits. Watch your habits for they will forge your character. Watch your character, for it will make your destiny.”


12 thoughts on “Bubbly or Bust

  1. It’s all part of the plan. Just as Regan out spent the Soviet Union ensuring it’s financial collapse, Sir Jim is doing the same.
    The cost of entry is prohibits competitors, and has drained the coffers of the RNYS to pittance.
    Outspend the competition so there is no competition, the Cup is yours! Forever…


  2. Congratulations Jon, and all the competitors of the Laser Worlds! That’s REAL SAILING COMPETITION!


  3. Given that you were the first one to suggest going overseas, maybe *you* should apologize to the RNZYS, Magnus. We all know Dalton only got the idea from reading this blog. /sarcasm

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kai,
    Magnus is absolutely right and SPOT ON! Instead of picking a Fight with their respective Team Emirates Team New Zealand the small Number of Members from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron should lobby the NZ Central Government.

    No matter what Mark Dunphy says the Funds for an Auckland-Based 37th America’s Cup ain’t there.

    If they force Dalton to hold the Event in NZ I could see Grant and the entire Team walk away entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t say he was wrong about lobbying the government (which I think they SHOULD also do, they should be doing both), I said he should apologize for originating the whole idea in the first place.


  5. So refreshing to see actual sailing/racing by John and Anna instead of talking about AC politics. There were more good races to watch at the recent worlds than the last two america’s cup’s combined, and it’s all on youtube.

    Liked by 1 person

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