Last week, BYM News came across some papers, about the America's Cup, written by Professor Roger Boshier, of the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Having read these papers, BYM News contacted Professor Boshier and asked if he would be prepared to answer questions, aimed at providing better understanding of ETNZ's America's Cup campaign.
Professor Boshier - a New Zealander, currently in Valencia, where he has been doing some research for Grant Dalton and sending out a newsletter, called Schnack-Net - agreed, but instead of responding directly to BYM News, he published modified versions of the questions and his answers in his Schnack-Net newsletter.
BYM News is publishing its original questions and Professor Boshier's responses and wishes to make it clear that the views expressed are, entirely, those of the Professor and have not been edited in any way.
BYM News' first question was "New Zealand has an incredible record for producing top class teams in many sporting arenas and sailing is no exception, but – despite having won the America’s Cup – as a nation it does not appear to have “America’s Cup attitude”.
The America’s Cup has always, in the words of Australian AmCup supremo Iain Murray, been about big toys for big boys, but ETNZ seems to see it differently. At least, that is the perception of many people outside NZ.
Do you accept that the America’s Cup competition is viewed differently, through Kiwi eyes, and, if so, what is the underlying reason behind that?"
Professor Boshier wrote in Schnack-Net:
THE AMERICA’S CUP IS VIEWED DIFFERENTLY BY KIWIS. IF SO, WHY?
We are small Polynesian country. Pakeha (white) immigrant New Zealanders were not a cross section of English society. They were innovators and adventurers who bailed out of the “old country.”
At Gallipoli, New Zealanders were shabbily treated by upper-class English commanders and that was the beginning of the kiwi distrust of “experts.”
If you see an “expert” coming to help, get on your motor bike and flee. The expert is there to line their pocket, not yours. The America’s Cup is a test of the kiwi way of doing things.
Most New Zealanders live within 9 miles of the sea and when kids get knocked over by surf, mum and dad tell them to stand up and do it again.
“The beach” is a formative factor that distinguishes New Zealanders from others. Camping holidays and hours playing in boats build an appetite for racing.
Same with the long ocean voyage. Every child knows about Maori migrations and who is descended from which waka (or canoe). But, as well, nobody questions why kiwis sail around the world in yacht races. It’s only a few steps up from “playing boats” in the creek or at the beach.
Watch an All-Black test match and you see New Zealand teenagers singing the national anthem in Maori. Not in the half-arsed North American way. With gusto!
This is why someone in Valencia is holding a banner saying “kia kaha.”
New Zealand “mana” is on the line in Valencia. Roughly equivalent to pride or reputation, maori and pakeha both understand the importance of defending mana.
Continuing on the Maori theme. Tom Schnackenberg’s great-grandfather Cort was trading between Australia and New Zealand and, in 1839 (before the Pakeha immigration) was coming ashore from a sailing ship off Kawhia Heads. His boat capsized and he was saved from drowning by young Maori men.
Cort Schnack felt he was now obliged to devote the rest of his life to the welfare of Maori. He became a Methodist preacher. His wife Annie was one of the women that brought votes to women and started a kindergarten (infant education) movement. There are still Methodist Schnackenberg’s in New Zealand. Tom Schnack is clearly of this family tradition. There’s a moral imperative.
Grant Dalton is a genuine kiwi bloke with a strong work ethic. Most people think of him as a tough-guy sailor (which he is) but, in addition he is a father with three kids, understands the importance of putting “kiwi” at the front of the challenge and like the “people” part of being a manager.
Kiwis are not averse to hiring foreign help. But, for many years, the America’s Cup has been an exercise in organizing yourself the kiwi way.
Go to the Alinghi compound and look at their, pristine, “pure science” defence of the Cup and “partnership” with the Polytechnic in Lausanne. Do they have blood in their veins?
Kiwis also need science. But go for the heartless big-money, big-science approach and you end up at Disneyland with Chris Dickson, Goofy and Daffy Duck.
BYM News' second question was "Non-Kiwis find it hard to understand the extreme Kiwi animosity towards Russell Coutts. In one of your papers, you indicate that a reason is that 'The ability of Alinghi and the Swiss-six to win the 2003 America's Cup was built on a foundation created by ordinary New Zealanders. All six had come through New Zealand's club system where citizens volunteer time to supervise youngsters.' This animosity towards Coutts seems even more bizarre to outsiders, since Ainslie when, recently, asked "who is your sailing hero" replied 'I guess it would be Russell Coutts.'
Why do Kiwis see Coutts as a traitor, but accept Ben Ainslie, whose sailing career was nurtured by Britain's Royal Yachting Association, an organisation whose members are ordinary Brits and which has the same volunteer system?"
Professor Boshier wrote in Schnack-Net:
WHY IS COUTTS A TRAITOR BUT AINSLIE NOT?
This one is easy.
There are a million kiwis (including your agent) working abroad. If asked to help out at home, they would be there in five minutes. Unlike those from other countries, kiwi expatriates remain loyal to the homeland.
Working abroad is a kiwi rite de passage.
But working abroad in a deliberate, systematic, big money, cold-blooded “Swiss” attempt to shaft your homeland is not on.
Coutts did not get to the top of the game because he sings the national anthem in Maori or is over-endowed with sailing genes. He got there because of yacht club mums and dads and public (i.e. taxpayers) money invested in him.
Remember, a traitor is someone who sells information to the enemy.
Your agent could forgive the traitors if they demonstrated they had a small inkling as to why people are displeased. But their defence was simple - it’s just business!
Part of the problem is that 1980’s rightwingers encouraged citizens to embrace “me first, stuff you capitalism.” And many did.
Coutts and his mates grew up being told to “sell” their skills on an “international stage.”
We have a plan to bring the traitors home.
Have them make a banner saying “Sorry folks. It was a big mistake. Got carried away by the money. Geneva sucks! Can we come home now?
Carry the banner down the main street of Auckland.
As for Ainslie, he is getting a superb training in ETNZ. By working for New Zealand he is not shafting his homeland. Sure, he was nurtured by the Royal Yachting Association. But he ain’t smacking the Cowes commodore over the head with a spinnaker pole or working against his homeland. He is not a traitor. Just an Englishman working in New Zealand because his homeland did not have a challenger.
Ainslie is now off to Team Origin and, before he goes, he should sit down with Grant and say thanks mate!
BYM News' third question was "ETNZ is not as poor as some people think, for it does have a substantial group of millionaire supporters. These seem, however, to be people of a somewhat retiring nature.
Would TNZ's AmCup aspirations have benefited if it had been able to attract a more flamboyant single billionaire sponsor, or would the Kiwi psyche make it impossible to run a team, where one individual held the major purse strings and, therefore, the power?
Professor Boshier wrote in Schnack-Net:
WOULD TNZ’S ASPIRATIONS BENEFIT IF A FLAMBOYANT MILLIONAIRE ARRIVED?
If it was Bill Gates or Warren Buffett and they handed over the dough and got out of the way, maybe so.
But, in general, we don’t need flamboyant millionaires!
Perhaps the biggest story of this Cup is the way Grant Dalton raised the dough! He jokingly asks everyone to be a sponsor and the Emirates bloke watching his kid play on an Auckland park said “yes.” Grant pretty well raised the lot.
Fund-raising is a mighty grind. But there is a big difference between working for Dalton (who raised the dough), Ellison (who started making it by working for the CIA!) and Bertarelli (who got it from his old man).
Too many millionaires are morally flawed. When they hang around there is a shadow.
New Zealand went the millionaire route with the Michael Fay challenges. Fay was the bloke that brokered the sale of New Zealand state assets (and took a mighty cut for doing it).
Because Fay was so identified with the failed “New Zealand experiment” in rightwing economics, he will not soon be home.
For very good reasons, Fay no longer lives in New Zealand. Even though his Catholic upbringing led to strange ideas about managing sailors, he deserves credit for grabbing and guiding the 1987 challenge with KZ-7. And for the kiwi gall nested in the big boat effort.
I doubt there will ever be another millionaire-led New Zealand challenge. Grant’s way is the kiwi way and it is useful to think about why so many large and small sponsors trust him to do the right thing.
The sailors give Grant immense credit for raising the money. As well, ETNZ receives food, plywood, line, cranes and other non-cash supplies. Even after the trauma of the 1980s and 1990s there is still a tendency for kiwis to work together.
One of the reasons why Coutts and the rest left was because they thought the millionaire model was the only way.
But, if ETNZ defeats Alinghi defectors should have the grace to admit their thinking was simple-minded. Money is necessary. But the big millionaire is not the only route to redemption.
If ETNZ wins it will demonstrate the folly of the “millionaire model.”