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Ed Said - Little old New Zealand, NOT!



dadIs there anything that annoys you about ‘little old New Zealand’? My answer to that is ‘EVERYTHING’!

New Zealand, well, not all of New Zealand, but ‘us’, and then not all of us but certainly our representatives of whom we feel a part, have just completed a most exciting contest on water in winning the Americas Cup.

Although most of the world (I refuse to use the term ‘the planet’) couldn’t really give a toss about the event it is still considered the oldest international sporting trophy and, as such, the pinnacle of the competitive sailing world.

This year, as in 1995, little old New Zealand has triumphed against, if you believe the press, seemingly insurmountable odds.

What a lot of pure, unadulterated garbage. Why is it necessary to portray ourselves as ‘little and old’ when we are neither.

Wander through a graveyard in Ireland, for example, and read the inscriptions on gravestones from the 1400’s. That’s old. The Waitangi Treaty was only signed in 1840.

Little? In terms of geographic size, yes, but in terms of yachting, boating, rowing, sculling, kayaking and other water sports, New Zealand is a giant.

Nowhere in the country is much more than a couple of hours travel from the coast or a major inland waterway. Per head of population I would say we could well be world leaders in water-based activities. Many peoples overseas never get to see the ocean.

Not only are our sailors formidable tacticians and competitors on the world stage from the smallest to the largest sailing vessels, but our designers and boatbuilders as well have played major roles in the success, not only of New Zealand sailing teams, but also within the camps of their opposition, such is the regard in which their knowledge, experience and integrity is held.

While every team gets beaten at some point – the All Blacks included – few in world yachting take Kiwis lightly either as a team, as pairs or as individuals.

Dean Barker, ousted after that seemingly incredible loss in 2014, this time headed the Japanese challenge. The majority of his team were Aussies. Speaking of which, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill was again the villain of the piece thrilling the press with his often confrontational comments but remember, he led Oracle to a win in 2014 when the kiwis were seven wins ahead.

Whatever you think of him that was no mean feat, and for those who might be interested, his yachting CV shows him to be a sailor of world class ability with world class achievements alongside our own hero of the moment, Peter Burling.

I’m at a loss to understand that, upon winning the Auld Mug we must be referred to as the ‘comeback kids’. We lost last time, we simply came back for another shot. No big deal. Peter Montgomery lifts the lid on NZ’s “audacious move to create a passing lane giving us a win.” Our seamanship was simply superior on this occasion and our technology both advanced and sophisticated.

There were hints about what we never heard or saw after that ‘tragic’ nose-dive, what happened both above and below the waterline, what was REALLY damaged? Then the endless hours that were worked in bringing about ultimate success. Any other team would have had to put in that same effort.

Some call it scaremongering, some negativity, others realistic risk assessment. Insinuations as to what happened within the team shed walls, personalities, stress both individually and as a team and how members handled it – why does there need to be a conspiracy theory?

One thing is for certain. The number 8 wire mentality is definitely a thing of the past. To see ourselves as the underdog gives us no credit I feel and it undersells New Zealand on so many fronts. Strangely, people love winners, then build them up to later pillory them and bring them down.

But lets glory in this success and work towards many more in all fields of sport, industry and technology. We need more tall poppies for it is they who set the bar towards even greater achievements for all.

Just my opinion.

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