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Cup Talk of the National Business Review
by Ivor Wilkins
Scene at a heli-port as photographers, armed with lenses the size of bazookas, wait to go into action. While they discuss the age-old question of whether size really matters, a helicopter comes clattering in from out of town. In walks the pilot clutching a giant blue chilly bin.
He's on a mission from God - or near enough. He's been sent all this way by Tom Cruise, who has a craving for a certain brand of chocolate ice-cream, apparently unavailable in Taranaki and vital to the well-being of the movie star. Mission orders: search the city to locate the particular brand, fill the chilly bin, get back to New Plymouth before it all melts. And, no sampling the wares on the way.
Royal or loyal
The war of the T-shirts continues. In response to the Schnackenberg for PM" shirts and the ubiquitous Loyal" shirts, Alinghi supporters are getting in on the act. Seen around the waterfront are some red Tshirts with the white Swiss cross and a red fern in the middle. The slogan is Royal." Apparently, when things are going well in Switzerland, one exclaims Royal! Strange for a republic but then maybe they are neutral about that as well. Then there's the line-up on the Alinghi support ship, each with a letter-shirt spelling the name of their team.
They need to stand in the right order, though, otherwise it could spell HAILING, which is about the only weather we haven't had so far. Or, if one of the cheerleaders falls sick, AILING.
Mutiny threatens as cocktails spill
The New Zealand Millennium Cup once again provided a glorious spectacle of superyachts out racing in some of our most scenic locations.
With a ready supply of recently unemployed America's Cup superstars on hand, there was no shortage of talent on board the yachts. Although this is supposed to be gentlemanly racing, some took it very seriously indeed and Dennis Conner added to his reputation for pushing things hard by being involved in some aggressive pre-start tactics. He wasn't alone and the action on the startline became pretty hectic at times. Some of the guests reported difficulty keeping the cocktails in their glasses - which is certainly imposing unnecessary hardship in the name of sport.
Reports that at 3-0 up Alinghi dispatched a senior management person to Geneva to plan victory celebrations sparked pleasant memories for Australia II's victorious 1983 skipper, John Bertrand.
Not a good idea," is how he reacted to the Alinghi move. Bertrand recalled that at 3-1 up in 1983, Dennis Conner's team was so confident of victory they put champagne on ice in readiness for the celebrations. Bertrand and his crew had other ideas and turned the momentum around. The labels floated off Conner's champagne bottles as we kept coming back. We had to win three in a row and we did it," Bertrand said.
No frills on Chris
When teams start getting into difficulty, one of the first questions is whether there should be a crew change. So, Dean Barker was probably not surprised when questions were raised about changes on the black boat. It was noted that Larry Ellison recognised the need for change on Oracle and did not hesitate to bring Chris Dickson back on board. To general laughter, Barker responded, We don't have the luxury of having Chris Dickson on our boat." Barker quite possibly meant it sincerely but the media centre has grown cynical and weary and clearly felt Dickson was a dubious luxury - even though his recall unquestionably brought a lift to Oracle's fortunes.
Zookeepers are running the asylum
Principal race officer Harold Bennett has a good sense of humour and it is just as well, because he is taking a lot of flak for the succession of race delays. Brad Butterworth also has a good sense of humour, although it is so dry many foreigners just don't get it. Harold and Brad go back a long way, so both were fully aware of the joke when Brad said Alinghi was bitterly disappointed" when racing was called off last Thursday. Trouble is, the exchange was broadcast on international TV and most overseas commentators took it at face value, blowing it up into a big deal. Brad and Harold got a good laugh out of that. It seems, however, Ernesto Bertarelli's Swiss sense of humour is failing and after three successive delays, he described the race management as a zoo. At their next meeting, the race committee duly had zookeeping listed as an agenda item. Then, when Alinghi initiated a cancellation, the race committee noted that the zoo was closed. Harold and Brad probably got a chuckle out of that too, but, once again, the joke might have escaped some of the overseas contingent.