America's cup

Fri 29 Jun 2007 17:18
My Kiwi friends often say "Its hard to be a Kiwi". They are refering to the constant disappointment of losing mostly to Australia but also to other stronger countries just when they are poised to celebrate some sporting triumph. Today I desperately wanted Team NZ to win the fifth race of the America's Cup. They won the start, held off the Swiss to the top mark, in conditions that many predicted wouldn't suit the NZ team, and led down the run. Then disaster! The spinnaker split. The second spinnaker had a twist and by the time they sorted out the mess the wretched Swiss were 100 meters in front. In the ideal, but stable conditions that existed on the course today there was no way back and the Swiss won by 19 seconds.
Being in Valencia during this event has been an enormous thrill. Storyteller is berthed at Port America's Cup which is right in the centre of the action. As I type this message the official spectator boat of Club Nautique de Geneve is returning to our dock with 150 wildly excited Swiss ringing cow bells and blowing on one of those long trumpet things they use in the Alps to call the sheep. The atmosphere is electric and everyone is thrilled that with the score at 2 races to 3 after today in favour of the defenders it is such an even contest. It is the closest contest for the cup since Australia won it for the first time from the Americans way back in 1984.
Valencia has done a brilliant job hosting the event. The whole purpose- built facility is huge and works well for the crews and visitors. While it is expensive to be here, the organisation is excellent and the atmosphere on the marina is fantastic. Today we decided to view the race on television so we walked to the end of our dock and watched the two race boats pass 20 metres from us as cheering crowds of spectators fired off sound horns and waved flags. They were followed by about 300 spectator boats that varied in size from 20 ft outboard powered dinghies to 250 ft power boats with their own helicopters.
Last night we walked into the old port area adjacent to the Cup village and had a superb tapas meal in a 150 year old restaurant. We then walked back to the marina and sat through a wonderful free concert by the Valencia Youth Orchestra. It doesn't get much better than this.
So after all the excitement Sue says she is off for a sleep to recover before we go off to dinner on the boat of charming American friend who we think works for the CIA.
Tomorrow is another day and another race. I'll let you know what happens.