So the carping continues. If it’s not one, it’s the other. Bored already. It almost feels like a tag system is in place with the next devout, and downright faux-furious, self-appointed big-wig of New Zealand society lining up to pollute the airwaves, hogging a precious moment in the limelight to decry the decision to put the America’s Cup in Barcelona. It would be understandable if it were the man-on-the-street but oh no, it’s the usual wind-bag suspects opining long after the horse has bolted.
“Tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Macbeth…but it seems rather apt.
The one that I just can’t countenance now is the insistence by some to remove the words ‘New Zealand’ from the ‘Team New Zealand’ title. Are you absolutely sure that’s what you want? Okay, let’s explore that. From now on the Cup winners will simply be called ‘Team Whatever’ – there are you happy now? And all the mesmerising performance that we’re about to see unloaded in Barcelona in 2024 can be attributed to…well there’s two Aussies on the boat…shall we call it the ‘Team from Down Under’…or something else?
Yes I know there’s hurt that New Zealand taxpayer’s dollars have been used to prop up the team in the past and there’s a bubbling ground-swell sense, stirred by those that love the sound of their own voice, that the team and Grant Dalton ‘owe’ the nation something.
Really? Is that truly the case? I’m not so sure but what I will say is that whilst I don’t subscribe to the notion that they owe the venue decision of a sporting contest to anyone, they do owe a stunning performance in Barcelona or all bets are off.
And what if, like we all suspect, Team Whatever comes out smoking and trounces the Challenger, once again, in the Match? Will they be Kiwis, Aussies, the corporation team from the land of the long white cloud or what? Will indifference really permeate the national psyche? If you believe some, they certainly won’t be the heroes that they are as the greatest winning machine in America’s Cup history. The undisputed heavyweight champions of the world. The apex kings. The finest export ever to leave Auckland. The sublime ambassadors showcasing their innovation, skill and sporting brilliance to the world in the toughest competition ever. Oh no…
Queen Street won’t host a ticker-tape parade. The local dinghy clubs won’t be visited by the all-conquering heroes to inspire the next generation. No statues will be erected in the Viaduct. Honours lists won’t be troubled. Nope it’s all over. Well it is if you believe those that are seeking to make their point, hog a headline or make a name for themselves. I think it’s baloney. It’s unedifying and my view is that it doesn’t represent the fabulous people of the greatest country on earth. In fact, what these players are doing through their actions is sullying the Cup for generations of Kiwis coming behind and showing the worst traits of the national psyche. It’s not reflective. Ignore them.
I firmly believe that now the decision is cast, it’s a case of rallying around the Cup, rallying around the teams, rallying around the flags, rallying around the City of Barcelona. I’m a glass half-full kinda guy and I know that Kiwis, real Kiwis, are too. Those that take the time to email me (thank you) tell me the same story. It’s a case of: yeah it’s gone, that’s a shame, that’s disappointing but who the hell is going to beat us…bring it on.
And I admire that. I can’t see beyond another Kiwi win as they thunder home their massive design advantage from one of the greatest teams of naval architects ever assembled fused with the best boat-builders on planet earth. I don’t hear one scintilla of doubt in all my dealings with the Kiwi team that they are in the least bit worried about defending overseas – they could show up in Timbuktu and win. At a canter. And just look at the sailors – Glenn Ashby, Nathan Outteridge, Blair Tuke, Pete Burling, Josh Junior, Andy Maloney….come on. That’s a dream team. Alinghi, Ineos, Magic are nowhere close if they’re honest with themselves. Luna Rossa are closer on paper but we all know the structural mountain they climb every Cup.
And is the whole F1 thing over-played? I read some of the agitators agitating for a link-up with Mclaren owing to their Kiwi roots going back to the days of Bruce Mclaren who died in 1970. Seriously? That team are up to their neck in trying to get their mis-firing Mercedes engines to work at the moment – the last thing they need is Dan Bernasconi asking for wind-tunnel time to trial a few foil designs when he already knows the answer. Yes F1 has the ability to provide command and control systems to better harness and tweak those wings up aloft but I’ll lay a strong bet that Team Whatever, under Bernasconi, already has that number punched.
I’m sorry but I see the faux-patriotism for what it is and I largely discount it. There are good points in there but largely it’s self-serving waffle. What would be more impressive would be for the agitators to line up rock-solid, firm commitment (that’s cold hard cash if you need me to spell it out) for 2028 and lock themselves behind the doors of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and work through a proper plan. Cease the social media. Go radio-silent. Don’t do interviews. No comment anywhere and nail a battle-plan that is unquestionably in the national interest. Everyone would respect that.
The Cup community would love another in Auckland. It’s the best place for sailboat racing anywhere on planet earth. It must return. It will return. But the schoolboy politics simply has to stop or we’ll be in Jeddah before you know it. Inshallah.
As Archimedes famously said: “Be silent unless you can say something that is more useful than your silence.”
And I think in the case of the ‘No Zealand’ brigade, they’d be wise to take the hint.