Who won the Sail America Cup winners
America’s Cup "When we won, it was gigantic"
Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA New Zealand's team principal Grant Dalton
Shortly before the 25th anniversary of New Zealand's first America’s Cup victory on May 13, 1995, New Zealand’s team bossYACHT online one of his rather rare interviews. The 62-year-old had achieved world fame as a seven-time circumnavigator and had already been part of the winning crew on the legendary "Flyer II" by Cornelis van Rietschoten in 1981/1982 before joining the Emirates Team New Zealand in 2003 and the team through all heights since then and lows controls. "Dalts" fulfilled its mission after a series of low blows in 2017 off Bermuda, when the Kiwis recovered "their" silver jug, which they had lost in 2003, with the brilliant victory over Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA. With the America’s Cup finally in his hands, silent tears of happiness and relief ran down the tough guy on the party stage in Bermuda. In March 2021, the successful defense should now succeed in the Hauraki Golf off Auckland. In times of the corona pandemic, this is a demanding challenge in several respects.
Emirates Team New Zealand Grant Dalton with the America's Cup after returning from Bermuda at Auckland Airport
Mr. Dalton, what do you think of the first New Zealand America’s Cup triumph, which was completed 25 years ago on May 13, 1995?
I don't think there are many Kiwis who lived then and don't remember our 1995 victory today. As every time we take part in the America’s Cup, the country literally comes to a standstill.
Carlo Borlenghi / Emirates Team New Zealand Shared happiness: Grant Dalton enjoys the quiet encounter with a Maori
What did the first Cup victory do for New Zealand and for sailing in your country?
So much! It is said that success always creates new success. That is definitely the case with us. There has always been a great interest in sailing in New Zealand. Before that, however, it was mainly related to the Whitbread Round the World Race. That culminated in the America’s Cup, since New Zealand first participated in 1987. The America’s Cup then fired the country’s imagination in the years leading up to 1995. When we won, it was huge. There wasn't a person in New Zealand who didn't know that. This brought the sport of sailing even more into the limelight. The children all wanted to start sailing. For the good guys, sailing became a viable profession. You can see that today at all levels of sailing. And of course with guys like Peter Burling or Josh Junior, all reigning world champions who were still small children when New Zealand won the 1995 Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand Two generations have their hands on the jug here: team boss Grant Dalton and talent of the century and 49er Olympic champion Peter Burling
After you took over as CEO as a result of the defeat in your home territory in 2003, you led the Emirates Team New Zealand through thick and thin, suffered two very painful defeats and finally experienced the sweet victory in Bermuda. Her own tears when she received the silver jug were the silent witnesses of a 14 year long sporty and emotional rollercoaster ride in Bermuda. This closed the circle for the team and you personally. At the age of 62, what drives you to continue to lead the Emirates Team New Zealand?
Certainly there was this element of the unfinished business on the way to Bermuda in 2017. There was only the narrow defeat in 2007 in Valencia and then San Francisco in 2013, where we came as close to victory as we could possibly imagine, but we couldn't win. I can assure you that in everything we went up against, we were not lacking in motivation. After we won in Bermuda, there was suddenly a new motivation: to bring the Cup to New Zealand and create the best possible event with the most revolutionary AC75-class boats to put on a spectacle so that the eyes of the world look at our small country as we struggle to win the cup again. That said, the team itself is really a great source of motivation. We have incredible talent on the board, in all departments. It is very inspiring to see this team renew and work towards a clearly defined goal.
Emirates Team New Zealand Driving force with a big fighter heart: New Zealand's team boss Grant Dalton
Where is your team ten months before the 36th America’s Cup duel in March 2021 in Auckland?
I think I hinted at that in my previous answer. I think we have the strongest team we can for this campaign. I know for sure we have made a big step forward since Bermuda. Obviously it had to happen, otherwise we wouldn't be in a good position on defense next year. Our chances? Who knows ... That's always the nice thing and makes the America’s Cup magic: You never have a significant insight into where you stand. Not until the first race in the America’s Cup match. You can hypothesize as many as you want, but you never really know. Beyond those thoughts, we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic that has turned the world off its hinges. We had to cancel two regattas of the America’s Cup world series, which might have given some insights. Now the teams will meet on the water for the first time in December(Red .: The plan is then to host the last regatta of the America’s Cup world series, which remained after the cancellations, in front of Auckland)- just a few weeks before the main event. With this requirement and in this situation, the teams are pretty much on their own, have to make decisions and reinsure themselves all the time. In that regard, I think it's going to be a fascinating America’s Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand The Emirates Team New Zealand trains in Hauraki Golf
Has the corona pandemic changed the distribution of chances among the three challengers and your team as defenders?
Who knows. It definitely changed the plans of all the teams in significant ways. Our first AC75 yacht completed a six month round trip through Europe and back. We lost six weeks and thus around 8,000 man hours of construction time on our second AC75 yacht. These are facts that haven't exactly improved our chances. That said, all teams are of course affected. Some more than others. In fact, the winner of this America’s Cup edition will likely be the team that can cope with the changes and that adapt best under the given circumstances.
Many major sporting events and well-known regattas had to be canceled due to the corona pandemic. How threatened is the America’s Cup in 2021 from today's perspective?
It's perfectly clear that Covid-19 affects pretty much everything. And that on a global level. We are fortunate that we have apparently managed the pandemic quite effectively as a country so far. From an event perspective, it is clear that all interest groups are motivated and committed to the America’s Cup next summer(Red .: Winter / Spring in Europe)to carry out.
What will be a team's most important strengths in the battle for victory in the 36th America’s Cup?
The same as always: good design, innovation, a fast boat, good sailors. And adaptability.
Will the legendary red socks play a role for your team again?
The red socks are a gift that is always made anew. It all started with Peter Blake(Ed .: who got the socks from his wife Pippa)failed to wear it in a 1995 Louis Vuitton Cup race. It was one of the very few races that couldn't be won. Then the red socks suddenly rose like a rocket into an almost iconic kiwi symbol. The public pulls them out every time the America’s Cup is on. The red socks are one of the things that will always be there as long as there is a New Zealand team in the America’s Cup.
See among your three possible opponents for the cup duel - the British Ineos Team UK for Sir Ben Ainslie, American Magic from the New York Yacht Club with skipper Terry Hutchinson and Patrizio Bertelli's Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team - a favorite for the challenger series Prada Cup ?
That is hard to say. They all make a strong impression. At the end of the day we have to face the strongest team. So we have to be better than everyone else if we want to successfully defend the America’s Cup in March.
What is the fascination of the America’s Cup for you?
Obviously the history of the regatta as the oldest trophy in international sport, dating even before the American Civil War. That's amazing when you think about it. In addition, the fact that this competition has since become synonymous with technology and a powerful engine for innovation. And then of course the knowledge of how damn difficult it is every time to win the America’s Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand The America's Cup is currently on display in a showroom of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. If the Emirates Team New Zealand has their way, it should stay that way beyond the 36th duel for the silver pot in March
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