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On 27 June in New Zealand and 26 June in Bermuda nearly 18 months ago, Emirates Team New Zealand overwhelmingly wrenched the America’s Cup from Oracle Team USA’s iron grip on the tropical turquoise waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound. It was a world away from the deep, dark winter in New Zealand.
Millions of Kiwis were waking up in the cold early hours, putting their kettles on and settling in on the edge of their seats in nervous anticipation that the 35th America’s Cup would be over before sunrise. Uneasy feelings of déjà vu from San Francisco four years prior were actively suppressed.
Back in Bermuda, the day seemed like any other day for Emirates Team New Zealand, going about their collective routine; the difference was their deep-seated belief in having a faster boat, better sailors and a better team than their nemesis Oracle across the water. No bravado needed, just each other, the support of the nation and another strong start from helmsman Peter Burling to put Emirates Team New Zealand in a position to once again pounce on Oracle and land the knockout blow. 78 seconds into the race it came.
Oracle leading around mark one, heading downwind and getting set to lead the gybe into mark 2. They looked back; Emirates Team New Zealand had already gybed without signal. A no-look gybe practised tirelessly in the seclusion of Auckland months prior left the Americans aghast. The all too familiar sight of the Emirates Team New Zealand transom their view once more.
Meanwhile, on board the Emirates Team New Zealand chase boats and back in the base, finger nails were long gone and shoulders still tensed.
A clean rounding of the final reach mark, before thoughts dared to think the 14-year endeavour to reclaim the Auld Mug, was imminently over. As Glenn Ashby, Peter Burling and the now infamous cyclors flew ‘Aotearoa’ across the finish line, an overwhelming sense of pure relief descended on a team not renowned for its emotion.
The vibrations and ringtones orchestrated from within the pockets of all the team and its supporters in Bermuda as family and friends back home rang through to be part of the celebration. The ringtones continued into the Winner Press Conference as CEO Grant Dalton jokingly says he would “call Russell back”. Peter Burling assured the international press that the team would certainly be celebrating the sweetest of victories long into the night in a way only Kiwis would understand. Bombs off the dock, kids’ cricket on the forecourt and a traditional Emirates Team New Zealand end-of-regatta eating competition of a pie, a lamington and a bottle of Steinlager off the saddle of the cyclors’ beloved Wattbikes.
The hazy next morning and the realisation that, like a desert oasis, the finish line of the 35th America’s Cup had just transitioned to the start gun of the 36th America’s Cup. No rules, no roadmap, just a challenge and a trophy and an opportunity to make the 36th America’s Cup in New Zealand the best in the race’s long and colourful history.
Reflecting on New Zealand’s win in Bermuda coincided with Toyota New Zealand’s announcement of its continuing support for Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup. The 2021 Cup defence in Auckland will be the eighth America’s Cup campaign that Toyota New Zealand has been involved in, making this the longest continuous sports sponsorship in the country.
“We’ve been proud and honoured to stick with the team through thick and thin,” says Andrew Davis, the General Manager of Marketing for Toyota New Zealand.
“The team’s philosophy of imagination, experimentation and innovation was the winning ingredient in Bermuda last year and represents what we stand for as a company and a country. Last year’s successful challenge for the America’s Cup aligns even more closely with our brand values of continuous improvement and in the past four years this focus has led to some exciting innovations and culminated in victory.”
“We are really proud to have Toyota back on board with the team,” says Emirates Team New Zealand CEO, Grant Dalton.
“They have been a staunch supporter of the team for over 25 years now since the 1992 campaign. We have grown together and Toyota is very much part of our DNA.”
A FLEET HISTORY
Toyota New Zealand first joined an America’s Cup campaign in 1992 and was involved in Black Magic’s victory in 1995 and successful defence in 2000.
It also stood behind the team when the trophy went to Switzerland in 2003 and the challenges in 2007 and 2013. Toyota’s support of Team New Zealand since 1992 is one of the most successful sport sponsorships in the country’s history, says Andrew. New Zealand is the second most successful country in the 167-year history of the America’s Cup (after America) and is the only country to successfully challenge for the ‘Auld Mug’ on more than one occasion.
“The team has achieved a remarkable success in a short time and it is the people who have gone the extra mile to deliver great results,” says Andrew.