Americas Cup Races
Clark and the Big Boat
The Louis Vuitton Cup races, which determine who will face Team New Zealand, the defender of the Americas Cup, were well under way when we arrived in Auckland. Having been here in 1999-2000 for the last Americas Cup races, we were familiar with many of the hot spots around the renovated Viaduct Harbour. The Kiwis have done a wonderful job making this area a top tourist spot. The photo above was taken in front of NZ-1, the Big Boat, that participated in probably the most bizarre Americas Cup challenge ever. It was held in San Diego in 1988. The Big Boat faced Dennis Connor’s catamaran in an unsuccessful attempt to pit a monohull against a multihull and bring the Cup to Auckland. The Cup stayed in San Diego for the 1992 and 1995 campaigns. The Kiwis finally won in the 1995 match and the Cup was transported to Auckland, the City of Sails. In 2000, they defended the Cup for the first time and won again with an incredible showing of national support. The entire country turned out to root the team on. It was one BIG event unparalleled by any previous match. But, after that campaign, the two top Team New Zealand crewmembers were enticed away to compete for the first Swiss entry ever, Alinghi. The defection was not popular with many Kiwis and the emotion of a Swiss-New Zealand final was enormous. The Kiwis called the defectors Skiwis. To be fair, the sport has become a professional event, and they were by no means the first sailors to help another yacht club win the Cup.
The Swiss team Alinghi’s compound. Team New Zealand returning to Viaduct Harbour.
Much of the fun in going to the races was enjoying the excitement and atmosphere around the festivities held at the Viaduct Harbour. Many of the visiting megayacht’s were moored there and it was quite a sight to see them up close. The photo below shows the New Zealand’s barquentine, The Spirit of New Zealand, coming into the harbor. She’s used as a training ship for school students and handicapped people. In the background, you see the magnificent Amerigo Vespucci, a three masted Italian training vessel which was on hand to support the Italian Prada team.
The Spirit of New Zealand
Racing was held out on the Hauraki Gulf not far from Auckland. A large spectator fleet attended every race. We met a very nice couple, John and Sheri Laramie, from Connecticut in Niue and again in Tonga. They have a beautiful 70 foot schooner called the Tree of Life. The Tree was named one of the Best 100 yachts in America by Sail magazine in 1990. John and Sheri invited us aboard to watch the Americas Cup racing in luxurious style. What a great way to see the most coveted yacht competition in the world.
The Tree of Life at Gulf Harbour
John and Sheri were wonderful hosts and treated us to some nice days out on the water. The big screen television was on in the main salon so we could watch the race coverage there or right on deck. Pretty awesome!
Watching the race from the Tree
The racing was exciting, but, we were kept a fair distance from the action so we wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. In the next two photographs, you see Alinghi and Oracle battling to win the Louis Vuitton Cup and ultimately winning the honor of racing against Team New Zealand for the Americas Cup.
As we now know, Alinghi won the Louis Vuitton Cup and beat Team New Zealand in the 2003 Americas Cup, thus, bringing the Cup back to Europe after it left in the very first match race 152 years ago. The British yacht lost to the American yacht, America, which is what gave the event its name. The Cup remained with the New York Yacht Club for 132 years, the longest winning streak in any sport according to the Guiness Book of World Records. Now that the Cup was finally won back by a European team, its ironic it was a Swiss team. They have no ocean ports, so, the Societe Nautique de Geneve has announced the next America’s Cup will be held at Valencia, Spain in 2007. It should draw a huge spectator crowd and numerous challengers.
Our thanks, again, to John and Sheri Laramee for inviting us aboard their beautiful yacht to enjoy the races.
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