One of the most drawn out sporting finals in history has reached a dramatic conclusion.
Oracle Team US has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat after successfully holding off the gallant challenge of Team New Zealand at the 34th America’s Cup.
For Kiwis, this America’s Cup has been one of the most nerve-wracking in history with joy, excitement and heartbreak seizing the collective hearts and minds of a nation that has been behind its team all the way.
For days – as the challenge has played out – anxious spectators all over the country have stopped regular activities to gather in front of the nearest television – at work, home, in boat clubs and en masse in ‘Shed 10’ on Auckland’s waterfront Queens Wharf to watch the drama unfold.
The race came down to the death with both teams level on 8-8 after two weeks of thrilling racing – but the Dean Barker skippered Team New Zealand failed to get out of jail under the watchful eye of Alcatraz on the San Francisco harbour.
The start of racing seemed too good to be true for Team NZ as they cruised to eight victories when Jimmy Spittle’s Oracle was forced to start with a 2-race deficit.
Racing went from looking like an easy beat, with New Zealand sitting on an 8-1 match point for six days, to a nail-biting finish that saw New Zealand succumb to a fighting Oracle 8-9 in what is being hailed as the most miraculous comeback in the history of sport.
Somewhat ironically it was Kiwi ingenuity that has been credited with bringing Oracle back to life after the team sent an SOS to their New Zealand boat builders.
Core Builders Composites, based in Warkworth, in the North Island of New Zealand, produced the wingsails, foils and appendages for the powerful Oracle AC72 catamaran and is said to have helped the boat find the speed it needed to leave Team New Zealand behind.
The company has great ties with the tournament and has even built private boats for Oracle boss Larry Ellison.
The fact that eight experienced Kiwi sailors make up the 25-man team Oracle also pays tribute to New Zealand as a world-respected leader in the sailing and marine industry.
With nearly 16,000km of coastline and a climate that beckons people out of doors and onto the water, New Zealand is a boaties’ paradise.
Stunning cruising grounds, sheltered anchorages, plenty of on-the-water activity and the luxury of top quality food, wine, spas and sophisticated accommodation make for idyllic sailing holidays.
Auckland – the ‘City of Sails’ where Kiwis reveal their passion for the water in the huge number of craft on the harbour at weekends and evenings – has a sailing opportunity for everyone from experienced sea-adventurers on multi-day charters to beginners learning the ropes on an America’s Cup yacht, or enrolling in a short course at one of many yachting schools.
In fact the heart-stopping regatta in San Francisco has even inspired a new generation of prospective sailors with inquiries about sailing lessons flooding into yacht clubs around the country.
Viaduct Basin – Auckland
New Zealand has enjoyed an illustrious history with the America’s Cup and Auckland is somewhat of a spiritual home for the trophy.
Auckland’s Viaduct Basin, transformed from its dilapidated fishing village roots when New Zealand won the America’s Cup in 1995, is also home to some of the world’s leading manufacturers in the boatbuilding trade.
Names like Southern Spars, who built the 40m wingsails for ETNZ, and North Sails, are famous the world over. Cookson Boats, one of the world’s leading builders of composite racing yachts, based on Auckland’s North Shore, has built the last eight boats for Team New Zealand campaigns.
It was technology that won the day at the 2013 America’s Cup – but in stereotypical fashion New Zealand never stopped believing and Aotearoa skipper Dean Barker and his crew never gave up – and proud New Zealanders can’t ask for much more than that.
photo credit: Giles Martin-Raget