I have really enjoyed watching the America’s Cup races. In fact I got a bit hooked over the last few days. The past week has not been easy as we watched a convincing Team NZ lead and inevitable victory become unlikely, and then impossible. In the end it came down to technology and money.
And that is the bit that has taken the edge off my enjoyment off this fest of racing. Yacht racing at this level is no longer simply about the skill of athletes. It is the team with the bottomless bucket of cash that is best able to adapt their boat day by day to the conditions. The team with the money can affort to make changes on the run to counter the skill and strength of the opposition.
The New Zealand tax payer contributed 36 million dollars to this cup campaign in the expectation of payback when we would again host the defense in Auckland. But we did not win, and the defense will not be on Gulf Harbour. These weeks of spectacular sailing entertainment and sportsmanship cost New Zealanders 36 million.
I don’t think this would have hit home for me if I had not seen a completely unrelated news story during the week. The story was about hungry children in New Zealand schools. You might like to take five minutes to watch the Campbell Live clip at this link.
Tonight I feel a bit guilty that I allowed our government to gamble on a boat race. I have great admiration for our team who continued to battle throughout the regatta, and who showed gentlemanly sportsmanship in the face of impending defeat. But the fact is that we are a small country who can no longer afford to fund the sports of billionaires. We are certainly up to the task in terms of skill and sportsmanship. But while too many NZ’ers live in poverty, we must leave these wonderful sporting contests to private financiers.
And now I’m off to bed, sadly no race to watch in the morning. I feel privileged that I have a comfortable bed to go to, and I feel a bit guilty knowing that the money we spent on these wonderful few weeks of yachting, could have provided school lunches for children in decile 1-4 schools in NZ for ten years.
My last website surf for the night is to the KIDSCAN website. Perhaps I can follow the promptings of my healthy guilt by making a donation? You might like to do something similar.
It would be interesting to see some analysis on the return on the governments $36M. I did read some comments that said the spending in the NZ yachting industry because of the profile of the America’s Cup has been several times that. (Even Oracles boat was built here.)
I would agree, but for the fact that even without the win, ETNZ paid well over $100m in tax to the NZ govt over the course of this campaign. It’s like someone saying to you, if you give me $4 I’ll give you a $10 buck note. You’d be stupid not too. And that $6 could do alot.