I think I might get it now, this little country of New Zealand. Or at least a little bit more than I did a few months ago. I thought to myself earlier this week: “Man, if we’d left to go south from Washington just two years later not only would the girls have been older, out of diapers, and actually remember the trip [Holly has no recollection of sailing across the Pacific, yet alone California, Mexico….] but we would have been in San Francisco for the America’s Cup.”
“Scratch that,” I replied to myself.
New Zealand is the best place to be watching the America’s Cup action from. It’s absolutely everywhere. Cup talk is on every TV station, every radio station. It’s been the cover of the NZ Herald for weeks. There are live viewings of the races on the Auckland waterfront with hundreds attending, lining up at 6am to get into the shed. I’ve talked about it with pretty much every Kiwi I know, even the other mums and teachers at the girls’ schools. They are showing the later second races at Holly’s kindy in the mornings and Leah tells me it’s on in her year 3 class too. Everyone is talking about sailing. Everyone wants ETNZ to bring the cup home. So. Bad.
The desire to win is thick here, so palpable. People care so much. New Zealand boat builders and sailors are the best and everyone wants the world to know. I sense this little country – which barely makes it onto nearly every map I come across – feels like they are up against big bossy America and is determined to show that the little guy can win with pure skill on their side. The problem is the big guy has a whole lot more money and can afford to improve his boat each day (with Kiwi builders, ahem) and that might be the trick. It’s not been looking good these past few days for the Kiwi team and I worry what will happen when everyone’s clenched fists collectively release tomorrow. I seriously see a spike in Prozac scripts happening if the cup stays in San Fran. Major national pride is on the line. It’s that serious here.
What they don’t know here is that your average American couldn’t care less about this little sailing race on the bay. At least there hasn’t been a peep about it on The Daily Show, or even Colbert Report, which is about all the news from the U.S. we can take these days. Maybe I’m wrong and there’s more a buzz in the U.S. about the Cup this year outside of sailing aficionados but judging by all the posts about football on my facebook feed I’m doubting it. I certainly remember absolutely nothing about the America’s Cups from years past, except maybe shrugging it off as a bunch of rich guy’s toys.
Clearly, it’s still a bunch of rich guy’s toys. But after experiencing the Cup from the other side of the ocean, I can see that it’s much, much more than that to this proud island nation. My fists are clenched too.
Kia kaha Aotearoa.
Addendum: I just came across this post from a NZ blogger via the ETNZ Facebook feed and I think it says it all…