Welcome to Sail-World.com’s New Zealand e-magazine for July 2, 2014 Editorial: Team NZ and Brits march to the beat of the same drum
The sailors of Emirates Team NZ answered the team's critics in the best possible way with two strong results over the weekend.
In the A-Class Catamaran European Championships
, sailed in Bordeaux, Glenn Ashby continued his dominance with a win in the 105 boat fleet adding to his seventh World Championship win at Takapuna in February.
The Team backed up a good performance with an eighth place for team skipper, Dean Barker, in his first ever A-class regatta since the class embraced foiling. The team's Volvo Ocean race skipper, Chris Nicholson, in his rookie year in the class, turned in a 19th place overall.
Of course, those who were so quick to get Team New Zealand's financial challenges onto the front-pages, a week ago, completely ignored the results from France and Russia.
In St Petersburg, Russia
, the team's second skipper, Peter Burling along with his fellow world champion and Olympic Silver medalist, Blair Tuke had their work cut out on the tricky River Neva in Act 4 of the Extreme Sailing Series.
Burling kept the team's end up with a third overall, and that could well have been a second. They sailed very strongly on the Final session of three races, with their timed starts into the current being a feature. Many of the other top skippers pulled the pin early, or got caught in the peloton on the start line.
Team New Zealand strategist Ray Davies seemed to have their timed runs down to perfection, and the Kiwi's starting - considered by some to be a weakness in the last America's Cup - became a strong point and an excellent launch pad for the rest of the race.
The New Zealand media, who had been so vociferous about Team NZ's off the water issues and approach ignored both results and their significance, save for a comment about how Burling was now putting media whipping boy Barker under threat.
What crap! Rather it is a measure of the strength and depth of New Zealand sailing, both at America's Cup and Olympic level.
As has been said so often, and is there for all to see who care to look, the New Zealand AC team is in a very strong position going into the next America's Cup, with an excellent sailing team that is performing on the water in multiple regattas. Even when the team is split, they still turn in top results.
Yes, the Burling skippered team didn't win in Russia, but they did beat the other America's Cup teams who were competing. The restricted nature of the Extreme Sailing Series venues is like playing World Cup football in a carpark.
The Australian team failed to fire again, and are now on their fourth skipper. Ben Ainslie Racing came in just behind the Kiwis. Groupama and Australia finished 9th and 11th respectively in the 11 boat fleet. Luna Rossa did not compete. For sure it is early days for all teams, but even now some teams clearly have more traction than others.
British Government backs Ainslie
Sir Ben Ainslie meets with Prime Minister, David Cameron, Tuesday morning at 10 Downing Street - © Lloyd Images
Overnight comes the confirmation that Ben Ainslie Racing have secured national/local government backing to the tune of $14.6million (UKP7.5million) to develop an America's Cup base in Portsmouth.
Taking a leaf out of Team New Zealand's book, the British have realised that substantial local economic benefits can flow from investment in the America's Cup.
In the case of Portsmouth, the idea is to shift a wartime based ship building and maintenance industry into a marine technology hub, based around the high profile of Ainslie and the America's Cup.
The British have similar but different issues to New Zealand, with a number of excellent marine companies based in the South of England, and around Britain. What they lack is a common high profile shop-window. Ben Ainslie Racing's new facility at Portsmouth and the America's Cup team should help bring that expertise and the Brit's excellent products into sharp focus.
While expectations on direct job creation may be a little overcooked, the ripple from the Ainslie wave should extend right through the British marine industry, and on that basis they are probably conservative. BAR's facility will also provide a vehicle for many British suppliers to climb aboard and be able to say 'as used in the America's Cup.'
Add to that the rapidly expanding carbon construction industry in UK, for wind turbine technology and elsewhere, and the initiative should turn into a real winner for the Brits on multiple fronts.
Of course, it also has the intangible spin-off that an America's Cup creates and inspires out of the box thinking. Such a quality is essential in any half-successful campaign, but it also can make people try something new, feel good about themselves, and proud of what they have achieved.
Those qualities again extend into other areas in both industry and life. They mark out the people that Ainslie has assembled as his financial backers, who are largely self-made men. The task ahead for the Team is to attract the necessary sailing and design talent, and make the British team more than just Ainslie-centric.
The British marine industry Dream Team - The Duchess of Cambridge and Sir Ben Ainslie in front of the America’s Cup - © Lloyd Images Click Here to view large photo
The announcement maybe also marks the end of the billionaire-backed phase of the America's Cup. But the industry and government backed teams (and their fans) need to have the view that they are in the America's Cup game for the long haul. While the teams themselves are focussed on the winning, the benefit for their backers is that they are participating and providing the shop window for the wider sailing and national industries. This style of Challenge has to be seen as a long-haul deal and not something that has a life of just one campaign.
Add in the Royal patronage for the Ainslie, the team, and the British Government are onto a real winner with their backing for the America's Cup Challenge and move into Portsmouth. As other government and industry backed teams have proved - they can provide a publicity platform that money cannot otherwise buy.
As we well know the whole exercise is self-funding or generates a profit once the initial investment is made.
Stay tuned to our website www.sail-world.com
for the latest developments.
Good sailing! Richard Gladwell
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