Gladwell's Line: Kiwis join up the Sailing dots

Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and Grant Dalton are now all on the one Team for the 2017 America’s Cup
Republication of Sail-World.com's New Zealand newsletter editorial for January 17, 2014

Tuesday’s announcement that 49er World and European Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had signed with Emirates Team New Zealand, created a happy glow for a day, before the hoary subject of other aspects of the Team got their usual bashing in the general sports media.

The real significance of the announcement was that it has bridged the gap between Emirates Team NZ and Yachting New Zealand, which is a real win-win for both parties and the sport in general – not forgetting that Sailing in 2013 was New Zealand’s best performed Olympic sport.

There now seems to be a pathway from the Olympic and other High Performance programs run by Yachting New Zealand into the America’s Cup and other major events in which Team New Zealand competes.

August 7, 2012 - Weymouth, England - Blair Tuke and Peter Burling on the 2012 Olympic medal podium at Portland

This means that right from the time young sailors start to do well in Optimists, they can realistically set their sights on breaking into Team New Zealand by following Yachting New Zealand programs and working through the various levels. Not many have transition from the YNZ Youth Team to Team New Zealand - Dean Barker was one of the last, and Russell Coutts before him.

We look at how this works in more depth in this edition of Sail-World.com’s newsletter. But it is fair to say that no other country in the world can offer this pathway to their young sailors – for the simple reason they either lack the sailing infrastructure or don’t have an America’s Cup team, or both.

Peter Burling (left) and Blair Tuke after winning their Silver Medal at the 2012 Olympics, Weymouth

For Team New Zealand it adds a second talent seam to the rich lode already provided by the RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Program – which has produced a number of top America’s Cup sailors. So the team can be refreshed as required.

Equally importantly it provides a means where young sailors can see a pathway and pay cheque from the sport, without being reliant on Sport NZ for the bulk of their funding. It also avoids them having to make the decision as to when to forsake their Olympic and High Performance sailing career for one in the real world - before they get too old.

The other key point is that Team New Zealand now has two established helmsman/tactician combinations in Burling/Tuke, who have been together for over five years, and Barker/Ray Davies who have been together for a longer period, and go way back in terms of their club sailing. With crew size reductions likely in the next America's Cup, if a smaller boat is chosen, then the Oracle Team USA three man afterguard will probably get chopped in favour of grunt in the middle of the boat.

Do the engraved words "Open to all Nations" imply a requirement for the America’s Cup to be sailed between National Teams? Or, that all nationalities are welcome to sail on any boat? Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle
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Also in this edition we have an update on the state of play with sorting out the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup, largely from an Emirates Team NZ and Challengers' perspective, but which seems to be consistent with what is being picked up on our antennae elsewhere.

It seems that the Australian Challenger of Record wants to put together a Protocol in which they, and other moderately funded new teams do have a reasonable chance of competing against the established teams.

The key points in that are Cost Control, and also Nationality.

You only have to look at the potential Australian team if a strict 1983 style nationality rule did apply, with a line up that would have an Australian First Eleven as Jimmy Spithill as its skipper, and Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen, Tom Slingsby, Joe Newton, Sam Newton, Kyle Langford, Glenn Ashby, Will McCarthy, Adam Beashel, Darren Bundock on the boat, and with Ian Burns heading the Design Team, and Grant Simmer as CEO. All of those sailed for other teams in the 34th America's Cup and almost all seem set to do the same for AC35 in 2017.

That leaves Australia, as matters stand, to start AC35 with a largely fresh team. That should not be the way a game that was 'Open to all Nations' should be played. It is a complete nonsense.

Outside of USA there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest in continuing with the present franchise teams event, with no real salary or budget cap.

San Francisco - 34th America's Cup Final - Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker

In NZ and internationally there has been a fair degree of 'Barker-Bashing' over the NZ skipper’s track record. Some quick research shows that as helmsman (with Deed of Gift Matches excluded), Russell Coutts has helmed the most race wins in recent Cup Match history with 14 race wins, Dennis Conner, Dean Barker and James Spithill all have 11 race wins. Ed Baird has 5 wins and John Bertrand 4 wins.

Only two of that group - Coutts and Barker - have won the ISAF Youth Singlehanded World Championships. (The last time any of them could be measured at the same age in the same class and same competition. Barker won Gold and Silver medals from the event, as has Ben Ainslie, the only two sailors to do so.) Russell Coutts has won three ISAF World Match Racing Championships as a helmsman. Ed Baird has one WMRC win.

San Francisco, 10/09/13 34th AMERICA’S CUP America’s Cup Final race 5 Oracle Team USA skipper James Spithill with the spectators

One of the focus points of high profile international sailors is developing your own fan base - as well as that of your current team. In a online video conference this week three top professional sportsmen, including America’s Cup winner, Jimmy Spithill discuss how they use social media to develop their personal brands, and also to add value to their personal sponsors.

Although an hour long, it is fast moving, and gives plenty of ideas as to how to work up story lines and getting the message out there - by using media which is generally free, and can be picked very quickly with a bit of initiative. Most of us are self-taught on our social media skills – these guys tell you how to put them to your advantage.

Staying with Jimmy Spithill we conclude the five part ISAF interview series in this edition of Sail-World.com’s newsletter.

Race Day 1 / ACWS Newport / ORACLE TEAM USA / Newport (USA) / 28-06-2012***Race Day 1 / ACWS Newport / ORACLE TEAM USA / Newport (USA) / 28-06-2012

We also have, at long last, the final report from the12ft Skiff Interdominion at Worser Bay in Wellington, which concluded last Sunday. Also featured is the first report from the Laser Nationals in Nelson, where the 2012 Dutch Olympic representative was leading the points table, ahead of the top Kiwi crews.

Sunburst action at the recent North Islands event held at Worser Bay. Bruce Yarnton and Lachie Stewart are about to wipe out.
Karen Yarnton
Stay tuned to Sail-World.com/nz website for all the latest news.

To see the full newsletter and stories click here

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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