I have been watching the America’s Cup with interest not only because I love the flying boats and the technology that is on display, but it’s also been interesting to look closely at the various teams and how they function as a unit. There is one component that is not visible and one that money cannot buy and it’s going to be the deciding factor in the Final Series. I have been predicting that Emirates Team New Zealand is going to win this thing and that’s because they have this secret potion in abundance. And the secret potion? National pride. Plain and simple.
If you have ever been to New Zealand you will know what I am talking about. This is a small island nation with a population of just over four and a half million and most of them live fairly close to the water and therefore have a close association with boats. It’s not an understatement to say that the country is sailing crazy. Let me give you just one example. Many years ago I sailed into New Zealand on the second leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race. Of course the reception and support we got was unbelievable but that’s not what I am talking about. Midway though the stopover my girlfriend and I took a short holiday. I wanted to get away from the water and see some dirt for a change so we booked a few nights on a farm in the middle of the North Island. Sheep country.
When we arrived at the farm we were surprised to find that the farmer and his wife and children had been following the Whitbread with a kind of religious fervor. They had even made a large chart for each leg and had been plotting the daily positions. This was long before the Internet. The New Zealand Herald newspaper printed the positions of each boat daily and as a family they plotted the latitude and longitude of each team and noted how they were doing paying particular attention to the Kiwi yachts which that year were Peter Blake on Ceramco New Zealand and Digby Taylor on Outward Bound.
You see it’s this kind of National Pride and support that run deep in the veins of all Kiwis and especially those representing their country in sports. The sailors on Emirates Team New Zealand know that their entire nation is watching the racing and cheering for them. It’s like having a home team advantage even if they are racing halfway around the world. We all know that a home team advantage can make all the difference and ETNZ are carrying this elixir with them into each race. Unfortunately, you can’t say that about Oracle Team USA. I think it’s fair to say that most of my American friends are cheering for the New Zealand team and I think that the amazingly talented Jimmy Spithill feels that negative vibe each time he lines up on the start line against ETNZ.
Oh, and one more thing. Pete Burling and his team also have another secret potion. Blinding boat speed – at least in the light stuff and we all know – and the America’s should have known too – that there is very little wind in Bermuda in the summer.
|Oracle Team USA
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This article was syndicated from Great Circle Sails Blog