Honours Even?

Happy 2022 to you and yours. A year full of promise, hope and colour in our wonderful sport. There’s a lot to look forward to and in Britain we quite rightly celebrated our Olympic sailing heroes with honours galore. An OBE for Hannah Mills was the highlight although to my mind she should have been a Dame and I’m struggling to find the upgrade to ‘Sir’ for Giles Scott – perhaps I’m just not looking in the right place?


©Bob Martin for SailGP

But even more gallingly, I scoured the Foreign & Commonwealth list certain to see the name of Grant Dalton elevated to a knighthood but no, nothing. I can’t even find a Burling or Tuke or any of the Team New Zealand heroes in there and it strikes me as a bit odd.

Win the America’s Cup for Britain and Jim Ratcliffe will be dethroning the monarchy. Ermine and robes and a rightful place in the House of Lords awaits Sir Ben as a dead certainty. A national day of celebration will be called. Cowes will be the epicentre of the universe. But In New Zealand, their country’s greatest winner, fundraiser and soon-to-be global ambassador doesn’t get a look in. Was it something he said?


©ACE/ Studio Borlenghi

More likely, the supine New Zealand government knows what’s coming and have resigned themselves to the fact that the hot-potato Cup is going overseas and are playing idiocy with the honours system as a form of punishment for non-compliance. Personally I’d have a statue of Dalts and re-name the Viaduct Harbour in his honour but I don’t do politics – thankfully.

And what’s this? Straw donkeys and ‘Kiss-Me-Quick’ hats could well be the treasured mementos for Kiwi fans at AC37 if the latest Malaga rumour proves to have any legs – really? And the delights of chicken and chips in a basket will be the diet for the yachties…can’t see this being a winner but it’s the first great rumour of 2022. Expect a whole lot more.

Jeddah is off the table. Cork is scrambling. Spain has governmental and monarchial will, plus an attitude that an extra couple of hundred million Euros on the burgeoning national debt, palmed off to regional councils and divvied up by the masses is a small price to pay for securing a top flight sporting event. It might just happen. We’ll know very soon.


©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

And we’ll also know the fate of Pete & Blair in short order. Personally I think it’s Team New Zealand or off to do something completely different. The latter feels likely as the shutters are up at Alinghi and they’re hugely committed to their Live Ocean charity. Good luck if they do.

From a sporting perspective I think they would be nuts to turn down the national team as any sportsmen will tell you that your time to shine is so, so brief and the platform you can create is mighty. Do the hard yards in your twenties and thirties, try to eke it into your 40’s and then retire gracefully with a palmares that reads like something from the Gods. The world’s your lobster from there on in. But they must do what they must do. Team New Zealand will power on regardless with or without their undoubted skills. I hope they sign.


©Thomas Lovelock for SailGP

And what of Slingers? The rumour-mill has the Aussie as a Green Card holder in the USA and the jungle drums naturally beat towards the American Magic team. Didn’t see that one coming – amazing if true and a top, top signing for Terry Hutchinson if he can make the money work.

Slingsby isn’t going to be cheap but putting him together with Paul Goodison, arguably the top two Moth sailors on the planet, and wow you’ve got a heck of a team forming there and hopefully a renewed commitment from Airbus who might just prove that you don’t need Formula 1 works teams to do highly-effective aero modelling.

So we start 2022 with more questions than answers – a writer’s dream. I’m off for a week to throw myself fully vaccinated off mountains in Switzerland.

Be safe. be happy, sail to win and Happy New Year to each and every one of you all around the globe.


9 thoughts on “Honours Even?

  1. I wonder if it’s simply a result of the shrinking profile of the sport overall— maybe Ainslie will be the last person Knighted/Damed (is that a word?) for sailing for a while. It could be that the AC just isn’t on anyone’s radar in London in the same way it was in 1995-2000 when Coutts got it under comparable circumstances. It may be that if Pete and Bair get knighted, it will be as a result of their Live Ocean work rather than their sports results.

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  2. Happy New Year to you all.

    Although not a given, it’s quite common for NZ sports people to ‘turn down’ a queen’s honour while still active in their field. You know, modest kiwis and all that… Richie MaCaw was/is a case in point.

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    1. I thought I had heard somewhere that Dalton had been offered Knighthood once before and turned it down, maybe during his Whitbread days? Is there any evidence of that or was it just a rumor?

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  3. Straw donkeys and ‘Kiss-Me-Quick’ hats, fish and chips in a basket? You obviously have no idea of Málaga or Spain…

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