|From Ocean Navigator #132 |
the defeat of that country’s syndicate to a quasi-Swiss team last year. To be held in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, the race, to be called the Blake Cup in memory of the late Sir Peter Blake, would pit nations against each other, requiring that each crewmember of each vessel hold a passport from that country, the New Zealand Herald announced this summer.
The Blake Cup, to be held each year in Auckland, regardless of who won the previous year’s race, would feature four classes: junior sailors in Optimists; Olympic class in 49ers or 470s; fleet division racing in Etchells; and offshore matches (i.e., America’s Cup) between large keelboats 50 to 70 feet long.
The race comes at a good time for New Zealand. Nationalism, especially in all matters having to do with sailing, is particularly high in the wake of Blake’s death in 2001, and in light of the perceived betrayal of Team New Zealand by skipper Russell Coutts and tactician Brad Butterworth, who defected to the Swiss banking company’s Alinghi team to win the America’s Cup last year. (The America’s Cup no longer requires members of a given country’s team to be citizens off that country.)
Organized by New Zealander John Street, a life member of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, and American Tom Ehman, the Blake Cup could begin as early as February 2004.