America's Cup: Great to be back at Newport - Rod Davis

Emirates Team NZ lines up in Newport, RI - 2012 America’s Cup World Series Newport

Emirates Team NZ Coach Rod Davis blogs on feeling good about being back at Newport ...

Finally we are back in Newport, Rhode Island, for an America’s Cup regatta! Well not really the America’s Cup, but the AC World Series. But it’s great to be back.

As I look around at the teams involved in the ACWS there are only a handful of people that know, thus appreciate and value, the history of the Newport’s long association with the old Mug.

Like art or history, if you understand and place importance on it, it has meaning. If not, life goes on about the same.

Rod Davis, Newport 1977 age: 21years old
. ..
By and large, the 2012 sailing and shore crews’ earliest memories of the America’s Cup are from Fremantle in 1987. It not a fault, it’s just that the Newport history of the America’s Cup does not affect them in any real way, not that they realise right now.

A handful of people who did live though the days of Newport and are still at the cutting edge of the America’s Cup are: Iain Murray, CEO and Regatta Director ACRM, Paul Cayard and Laurent Esquier, respectively CEO and COO of Artemis Racing, Grant Simmer general manager, Oracle Racing, Tom Schnakenberg, Artemis design/performance, oh and me (we don’t have titles at Emirates Team New Zealand.

The changes in the game from then to now are so vast that it’s a waste of time to compare the two. It would be like comparing the 1906 All Blacks to the 2011 team. Don’t try; it was a different world and different time.
In the Newport days we were in our early twenties, no wives and no kids. And very little experience for that matter. On the edge of mayhem and loving it!

Today the average age of our sailing team is 38; they have families and have hands-on experience of two or three America’s Cup campaigns. Life is controlled and well-organised. There is just no way the two can be compared.

Back then it was non-professional, not that we were uncommitted. Quite the contrary, the teams required total loyalty and the working hours were just as long as today. We weren’t paid – no one was. Housing and food were taken care of by the team. Life was good so long as you had money for a beer at the end of the day. When you’re 22, life is not that complicated.

The prize for which every crew member worked his fingers to the bone was the Gold Card. The Candy Store one of Newport’s iconic bar/eating establishments gave each of the sailors of the winning teams, in the 70s and 80s a gold card. It entitled the bearer to Free Drinks for Life….

Today the Candy Store is stillgoing strong. That is for later.

Right now it about implementing a work up programme to nail this next regatta. Everyone is up for it, just need to make it happen.

It’s great to be back!