The America's Cup has featured in prime time news in all New Zealand mainstream media, almost every day, since the announcement of the new Protocol, negotiated between the defenders Team Oracle and the Challenger of Record, Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club last week.
Even though the regatta is more than three years away, no boats have been launched; no teams have entered - yet it is a mainstream news story in the Land of the Long White Cloud and Gumboots.
Certainly the words 'America's Cup'
can certainly galvanise NZ opinion like no others.
As our Sail-World America’s Cup Editor Richard Gladwell writes from Auckland:
‘The event seems to be one that every Kiwi has an opinion on - who they like or don't like as players, what they think of the teams, the rules, the controversies, and the money. And whether or not the whole thing is just a complete waste of time, or the greatest sporting event in world history?’
‘The fascination of the Cup seems to be like the classic game of backyard rugby, where you take on the team from over the road, in their backyard, playing to their rules, and with one of their mothers for a referee. If you can win that away game, then it is all on the next week, at your place, and making it as hard as you can for them to win.’
‘Despite coming up against an All Black test, the America's Cup once again galvanised public opinion, led the prime time TV news - and the new cycle isn't even a week old.’
‘But should we be surprised, after all the last America's Cup pulled the biggest TV audience ever for a sporting event in New Zealand - with over a quarter of the NZ population watching. Sailing has a huge audience, our own Sail-World NZL is by far the most watched single sport website in Kiwi-land. Miles ahead of Rugby and Netball.’
Gladwell continues ‘The themes, this time, are your classical America's Cup lines. A US billionaire, running a team led by one of NZ's most loved/despised sons, and a Knight of the Realm to boot and a bunch of Australian hired guns.’
‘They're up against the home team portrayed as bunch of bloodied Kiwi battlers, who'd just been handed the latest set of lopsided rules, designed to clean them out of the competition, if they didn't go broke first.’
‘Most Kiwi media can relate to the scenarios that spin from those storylines, and duly obliged.’
Emirates Team New Zealand vs. Oracle Team USA during the 34th America's Cup - Abner Kingman
‘Oracle Team USA opened up the battle on three fronts - announcing a Protocol that gave an advantage to the Defender like they had never had before.’
‘Next they picked a fight with the world controlling body of sailing, the International Sailing Federation, by virtually cutting them out of the first edition, and putting the America's Cup above the dictates of the ISAF.’
‘And then there is the battle to be the next venue. Who will pay how much and give what concessions in what has become known the Commercial Cup. Our information is that San Francisco is in serious trouble - but that was predictable from the outset.’
Oracle Team USA have gone on the offensive with Jimmy Spithills’s attack on Team New Zealand management, launched on Friday morning breakfast TV news in NZ. Grant Dalton followed up with an hour long radio interview on Sunday afternoon. We have both interviews in this edition.
Then Russell Coutts let go on Facebook, with a series of five questions for Kiwi fans on why it was OK for Oracle to have two boats to the Challenger's one each. Of course, he omitted to explain why the Defender needed to have two boats AND sail in the Challenger Selection Series, but that is par for the America's Cup.
Yes, it's definitely game-on in the 35th America's Cup - we have all the action in this edition of Sail-World, and carry the ongoing news on our website www.sail-world.com
And having finished reading that, you can see lots of news about Australian’s competing on the world stage and on the Oz scene.