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April 30, 2007 | by  | in Opinion |
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Why You Should Be Excited about the America’s Cup

Valencia, the city hosting the 32nd defence of the America’s Cup, is located on the south-eastern coast of Spain. It’s a picturesque city, swimming in the lap of the Mediterranean on one side, and tugging at the threads of a mountain range on the other. It’s also the 3rd largest city in Spain – a sweetened cherry of a tourist spot – and it also boasts the kind of conditions needed for a multi-million dollar yacht regatta. That said, it may as well be Gisborne, as far as Emirates Team New Zealand are concerned.

Yes, you read correctly – Emirates Team New Zealand. Our well-to-do band of loyal yachties, bravely flying the flag of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, is being sponsored by an airline based in Dubai. Before the cognitive dissonance sets in, let’s piece together why this relationship exists.

The America’s Cup isn’t so much a competition that weeds out pretenders from performers in terms of yachting prestige or skill; it weeds out the wallets of those pretenders and throws them overboard.

The cup is the domain of the rich and white; a proverbial ‘Battle of the Billionaires’, if you will, and little ‘ol Team New Zealand, the syndicate that could, needed a boost from a well-meaning company from the United Arab Emirates.

“So what?” you ask. Why should Mr. & Mrs. Joe and Jenny Kiwi wrap their arms around each other and begin to sway the moment the opening lick of “Loyal” hits the airwaves, like we did last time? Oh, you’d be surprised. As well as that delicious Middle Eastern coin, Emirates Team New Zealand has also received a fair amount of public funding to challenge for the Auld Mug. Whether you can tell a Laser Pico from a Maxi is irrelevant – you’ve invested in no less than two yachts, and a multi-million dollar challenge for a cup in a city half a world away.

Far be it for me to put away my armchair critic’s cap in favour of my righteous indignation fedora, but I’ve made it a personal mantra of mine not to invest in deadbeat sporting franchises. Do you remember the short-lived Woodville-based NRL franchise, “The Woodville Woodies”? Well, my wallet sure as hell does, and that’s $5 I’ll never see again (it’s a shame because it looked like such a nice raffle to win, too).

The point is this: despite some people’s hang-ups about public funding of sporting ventures, we have all been inextricably thrown onboard Emirates Team New Zealand’s challenge, for better or worse. The government have helped hoist the spinnaker; the rest is up to the team that lost the last regatta 5-0, and had trouble getting around the course without breaking some vital appendage – the mast, for instance. Still, it’s a worthwhile investment, right? Right…?

I have a horrible feeling that I may need to fire my stockbroker before the year is out.

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