Auckland is (still) in love with the America's Cup!
Watching the first day of pre-cup prelim pre-Christmas racing yesterday the one thing that struck me (off the water) was the amount of people who'd taken the afternoon off to watch!
Every vantage point from North Head in Devonport to downtown at the waterfront was packed with folk enjoying the sun, racing and collective experience that only big crowds can bring. I haven't seen or felt that kind of celebratory mood in the city since the Blues/Hurricanes Super Rugby Aotearoa match back in June.
People up here, clearly, want to party! The perfect storm (for want of a better term) of a years' worth of Covid restrictions, onset of the holiday season and a beautiful fine day to boot all combining to release the inner Admiral in so many people keen to get a close-up glimpse of these on-water rocket ships while soaking in the atmosphere that only the harbourside so naturally provides.
I will happily argue with anyone that downtown waterfront Auckland is as attractive as any city in the world. There's something about being by the water that just seems to put people in a good mood. Maybe the fast-flowing refreshments help, but there seems to be a collective camaraderie no ad campaign could contrive to create.
It's FUN! That's what I think I'm trying to say here, people were relaxed, happy and having fun. As for the racing itself, try and pretend you aren't wowed out by what you're seeing. These boats, if they can even be called that, are just spectacular.
Flying above the water at incredible speeds the technology on display, not to mention the sublime sailing skills evident, is as good as sport gets.
Finally, the Cup feels like it's back. And anyone who was around to experience our very first defence in 2000 will well remember the party that summer that seemed to go on forever.
Yesterday was a fantastic start to the regatta and in one brief but compelling afternoon proved beyond any doubt that (to quote the legendary Peter John Montgomery), the America's Cup is STILL New Zealand's Cup!