27 Jun 2017

Auld Mug means worlds to local yachting clubs

From Checkpoint, 6:15 pm on 27 June 2017

When the cheers rang out from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland this morning, people around the country gathered in yacht clubs to watch and celebrate Team New Zealand's victory.

Bleary-eyed supporters were on high alert from early this morning, quietly hopeful that a win was within New Zealand's grasp, but also mindful of the eye-watering loss in San Francisco four years ago.

Within minutes of TNZ's flying boat skimming across the finish line, the talk at venues around New Zealand turned to what it might mean for the rest of the country.

Nelson yachties watch the race at the Tasman Bay Cruising Club.

Nelson sailors gathered at Tasman Bay Cruising Club this morning for the America's Cup racing. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Some said beating Oracle today was a bigger comeback than the American team's sensational win four years ago, others said it will provide another strong boost for New Zealand's youth sailing, while another said it is closure.

"It makes it right - it makes the last loss not seem so bad," said Nelson builder Mike Rose at the Tasman Bay Cruising Club this morning.

In Tauranga, residents were out in force on The Strand to cheer on home-town hero Peter Burling, who at age 26 became the youngest helmsman to win the America's Cup.

Black Cap Kane Williamson and Peter Burling were head boy and deputy head boy during the same year at college,  and deputy mayor Kelvin Clout could not be prouder. He said they hoped to be able to welcome Burling back in style.

As the Auld Mug was handed over in Bermuda, talk quickly turned to the shape of the next event in home waters.

Prime Minister Bill English, who posted a picture of himself on Facebook watching the race at home on a zebra striped bean-bag wearing red socks, said it was too early to start talking about government contribution to the next campaign.

The government put $5 million towards the syndicate's preparations for this year's event, but today Mr English just wanted to revel in the win.

America's Cup - Team NZ

Photo: AFP

"It was a fantastic demonstration of a very long-standing yachting tradition - this combination of technology, teamwork and in this case some pretty youthful leadership," Mr English said.

An Auckland boat builder who helped create Team New Zealand's winning catamaran says plans to hold the next America's Cup back in Auckland will give a massive boost to the marine industry.

Southern Spars general manager Peter Batcheler said the benefits would be spread wider than just the City of Sails.

At the Tasman Bay Cruising Club in Nelson this morning, sailors and supporters were already turning their minds to hosting the Cup could mean for regional New Zealand.

Bruce Lines, who owns and operates Diving Services New Zealand, said it was not just the marine industry that would benefit.

"For places like Nelson especially, the effect is completely underestimated. People don't come just to see Auckland - while they're here people will whip down here and see how awesome it is," Mr Lines said.

Pedro Morgan - the commodore of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington, which was packed out with fans who erupted in celebration this morning - was keen to highlight the contribution of Josh Junior.

The Olympic sailor turned "cyclor" helped power the boat's cutting-edge hydraulics.

"It's a big deal for us and a big deal for all of Wellington. He came through the Worser Bay Boating Club - a sister club our ours, in Wellington, and he raced in our youth programme here for a number of years. So yes, we're very proud of him," Mr Morgan said.

Team NZ is bringing the Auld Mug home after 14 years away with a 7-1 win over Oracle Team USA in Bermuda.

Team NZ is bringing the Auld Mug home after 14 years away with a 7-1 win over Oracle Team USA in Bermuda. Photo: AFP