This morning I read a letter in the Euro Scuttlebutt which really struck me. I like to bring it on here for people to understand what made me a "fan" of the Kiwi camp. It also brought back the memory of the long night in early 2003. Me and my DN friends had stayed up to see the first of the TNZ vs. Alinghi start at 02.00h in the morning in a hotel at Lake Goldberg, only to see the Kiwi boat falling apart. Three of us showed tears. Nevertheless we had some good Iceboat racing the next day.
* Rob Wilkinson, Auckland, New Zealand: Although it would improve my bank balance for the Cup to come back down 'ere, I have to agree it's better for the sport for it to stay in Europe. The hyperbole in the local media is "they're one step away from bringing it home", but personally I can't see them overhauling Alinghi. My bet is 5-3 to the Swiss, not that I'd tell my staunch Kiwi father-in-law that. He'll personally march me to Immigration and have my passport revoked for being a traitor.
It's quite incredible, though, how New Zealanders really get behind the team. People who know the square root of duck all about yachting - they still think Anchor is a brand of butter and port is just a fortified wine - are totally compelled by the whole thing. Our small nation tucked away in the corner of the world might just possibly beat Bertelli and his billions.
The morning after the LV Cup final match, I was sitting in a waiting room and some little old lady was yawning and remarked she hadn't slept for a week because she'd stayed up all night to watch the racing. She didn't know anything about sailing but wanted to "support the boys". I swear there's only two degrees of separation between everyone in the country so her grandson is probably on the team.
Then I went to the chemist and the two old guys behind the counter were clarifying who the strategist and tactician were (they finally agreed, and got it right). It's like that everywhere. There are few places in the world you'd get that kind of public support for yachting.
I'm glad Sir Keith Mills has entered the Cup fray and put the Poms back in the game but I bet few landlubbers north of Hampshire could tell you (come 2009) who the Origin skipper is. Down here, every man, woman and child knows that Deano is "captain" of our boat. No pressure, mate.
I still recall watching the first race of the 2003 final at Auckland Airport. The whole arrivals terminal came to standstill as the boats crossed the line. No one cared about people pouring through immigration. Hundreds of eyes were transfixed on the big screen. The boom broke, blue bucket came out to bail out, the headsail ripped out of the foils and the team retired and people around me started crying. I was more staggered about the public reaction than NZL82 almost sinking.
If Dalts, Dean and co do win it back, it'll be one 'eck of a party. It'll make the '95 celebrations look like a village carnival. Cheers from Kiwi land, possibly the future home of the Auld Mug.