“Sailing” (1975) by Rod Stewart
“Sailing” (1975) by Rod Stewart
My brother John hated the America’s Cup. He never understood why anyone of us cared about winning it. “It’s a god dam rich white man’s sport! Should be watching the footy!”
He was right. Before we won the ‘Auld Mug’, yachting was unfamiliar to me and every single person around me. No one owned a yacht, no one had heard of it before and some of us, including me, can’t even bloody swim. It was only until we won in 1995, that all of us blindly hopped onto that bandwagon, throwing ticker tape when Blake and the boys came home, all revelling in the success of something none of us truly knew anything about. We did get a day off school, which I guess was pretty cool.
But in time, especially with my brother Peter, we were all slowly submerged into the sport of yachting. My brother John would always bellow and bitch that Peter should change the channel or that Peter should rally rather about the Rugby. But Peter stuck to his guns.
He was representing the part of New Zealand who was interested. He represented the part of New Zealand who was eager to learn. He represented part of us who would welcome in this novel pastime. From Peter, I let it in too.
Things are only boring if you are not aware of how they work. Some people don’t understand Picasso. They think he’s either got bad vision, horrible talent or is probably seven years old, to pull off some of those ‘masterpieces’. They don’t get it. Only until they understand what Picasso was doing or trying to say, will they appreciate him more. That’s why Pete and I watched every race when we could. We took time to understand the rules. We had a fair idea of what speed 50 knots was. That double barrelled crank was a winch. The mysterious term, ‘Spinnaker’, was finally resolved as the sail to switch to, when the winds are coming downwards. The more we fathomed, the more we became fascinated.
TVNZ knew what was going on as well. The national broadcaster had no wool over their eyes. They knew there were people like John. But more importantly, they had to make an impression upon the potential of people like Peter. The national broadcaster emphathised that if we were to truly celebrate this for our own identity; if we were to market this as a domestic sport; (if we could somehow entice investors into this); then the country would have to be gently educated about this novelty called yachting. And I think they helped to make it work – at least for me and Pete. They’ve consistently broadcast it for free; PJ Montgomery is the most patient of commentators; and, foremost, the brilliant technology has narrowed the gap: precise GPS detailings of distance and rapidness and microphoning every single panicked swearword. We experience being on the water whilst sitting comfortably in our couches, as if we were watching regular Rugby.
The marketing department have helped to make it work, as well. We are an island nation, surrounded by water: Yachting makes sense. Our tourism industry has only been boosted by the Cup as well. A promo was made for us to sing along to. Guess which song was used? And, again playing to the fact that we’re such a shit country, this is the oldest sporting competition in the world: older than the AFL, the Ashes, the English Premiership, Wimbledon, the Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold. This would be important to the psyche of our tiny nation.
Overall, introduction to the public has been positive. My brother, Pete, concretes for a living. He’s divorced, drinks a lot and still wears those ragged overalls he’s had since 1987. He was concreting an accountant’s house on the North Shore. They had nothing in common other than the job itself. That was until the subject of yachting came up. They spoke consistently of it together. It was really good relations. In the long run, my brother ripped him off by a few grand, but, you see, the point I’m trying to make is that the America’s Cup has become more familiar to all types of New Zealanders. The yachting community opened its arms and a fair share of us accepted the invitation.
There is however one point that I’d concede to my brother, John, for being against it: lawyers. We’ve grown accustomed to watching news articles of each team suing each other. I guess that’s the privilege of rich white men. It drains all the enjoyment; makes a mockery of it; and is deserved in its ridicule from John and the like. Its regrettably been part of the America’s Cup since the 1880’s. They were even suing each other back then. But that’s only one disappointment against it.
Because once you get to me and Pete’s level of admiration, you can forget about any of these aforementioned frivolities. They truly mean nothing. Pete and I watch it because (after the lawsuit has been settled), it’s breath-takingly exciting.
It’s fucking dangerous. A GUY DIED this year caught under the catamaran. Jesus! It’s become an Extreme Sport. I wouldn’t be surprised if the X Games pick it up eventually. You don’t realise how fast 50 knots is, until you see it – especially from the point of view of a guy who can’t swim. It’s scary stuff … and exhilarating.
I’m looking forward to Race Six. I’ll be watching. And though it’s been a few years since brother John passed away – I can still hear his negative voice, through my mates, through my family, through Twitter feeds, dissing the crap outta yachting. I don’t mind. Because me and Pete (excuse the pun), we’ll be on board.
RIP Brother John and RIP Captain Blake.