New Zealand sailors have notched up another major international success by winning the 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco.
It’s the third time the Kiwis have won the prized trophy and the recent triumph over Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge makes Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) the official challenger for the forthcoming 34th America’s Cup due to begin on 7 September.
The New Zealand sailing team has dominated the 2013 regatta on San Francisco Bay and been supported by a strong on-shore programme highlighting New Zealand as a sailing destination and nation of business innovation and warm hospitality.
Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge are familiar foes in the America’s Cup arena.
The two teams were finalists in the previous Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007 and also squared off for the 30th America’s Cup Match in 2000. Each time the Kiwis came out on top, as they did again when they won the latest Louis Vuitton Cup, 7-1.
Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker acknowledged the team’s relationship with Luna Rossa - "Without them we wouldn’t be here. They’ve improved dramatically and have pushed us to keep improving."
America’s Cup build up
The two teams will continue to sail against each other in practice races during the lead up to the America’s Cup when ETNZ come up against current America’s Cup holders, Oracle Team USA.
Once the Louis Vuitton Cup had been decided, the Kiwis put their AC72 into the boatshed on their San Francisco base, for a few days of modifications in preparation for the racing.
Emirates Team New Zealand advances to the America’s Cup Match for the fifth time in the past six contests, dating back to 1995. It has won twice and lost twice, and going forward it carries the hopes of a nation atop its lofty wing sail.
For the New Zealand public at home, an America’s Cup win was "really important - I mean really important," ETNZ managing director Grant Dalton said.
"The team understands that. The culture of the team is based on a non-selfish attitude of trying to take the Cup away from San Francisco, as nice a city as it is."
Kiwi team base
Emirates Team New Zealand’s 100-plus team of sailing and shore crew plus their families have been based in San Francisco since April.
During that time, they have become the favoured team with locals who call them "the people’s team" - referencing the backing by the New Zealand government and individual companies and communities - as opposed to a single billionaire-funder in the case of Oracle.
Waka Maori venue
Awareness of New Zealand has also been heightened during the summer of sailing in San Francisco as a result of the investment in a business hospitality programme centred on the Waka Maori venue at the Emirates Team New Zealand base and on the water.
A short distance along the Embarcadero from the sailing base, on the city waterfront, is the iconic San Francisco restaurant Waterbar which has formed a partnership with New Zealand to showcase the country’s top quality food and wines during the event.
Executive chef Parke Ulrich travelled to New Zealand to learn about the produce he would be working with, and the restaurant is promoting New Zealand wines already resulting in increased turn over with more than half the patrons selecting Kiwi varietals.
Further along the waterfront a Kiwi pop-up restaurant called the Waiheke Island Yacht Club is also creating a stir with San Francisco diners. Set up by Tony Stewart of Auckland’s Clooney restaurant, it sits on pier 29 next to America’s Cup Park and has become a favourite haunt for visiting Kiwis and residents - serving fresh produce flown in from New Zealand as well as New Zealand-brewed Moa beer.
A series of cultural performances have featured as part of the America’s Cup programme and a programme of business showcase events has elevated New Zealand’s profile in San Francisco.
New Zealand at the America’s Cup
Sailing in New Zealand