HAMILTON, BER – Who is an America’s Cup fan? The answer can probably best be found on the $5 ferry from Hamilton to the Cup Village. They come in all shapes, races, ages and sizes; and dress according to the day; some are necessarily in the regalia of the team they support (or supported in earlier rounds), and a large majority are New Zealanders who make no bones about for whom they are rooting.
The Kiwis came armed to support their team; very much regarded in similar fashion to their esteemed “All Blacks,” the rugby players who they deem as indestructible and who have proven themselves in recent combat. They are armed with the national flags – many on long poles – and these are waved frequently but more intensely when their team is doing well.
Photo courtesy of Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com
Three points up after two days gives the New Zealand supporters something to shout about, as if they needed an excuse. It is in total contrast to their team – one that goes about its business quietly in an almost impregnable compound. It is led by Grant Dalton, who re-built it with failing funds and encouraged new investors. It is he who deserves the accolades as much as helmsman Peter Burling and skipper Glenn Ashby (they have adopted this talented Aussie and treat him like one of their own).
The local Bermudians are dressed to support ORACLE TEAM USA because they believe a win for the Defender will keep the Cup in Bermuda. But the latest gossip says that would not be the case. Larry Ellison has tired of this island paradise, or is it because the tax concessions are not what he expected. However the locals still continue to wear shirts and hats (and even, in some cases, shorts) bearing Ellison’s lucky number 17 – the official name of OTUSA's yacht – in the belief they are assisting a “home” defense.
There is still some hangover support for the eliminated teams – the most for Japan, possibly because they are in league with Oracle (to all intents, the second boat that Oracle didn’t have to build). Land Rover BAR, whose headquarters in the Village are the first once the hoards have cleared the Security checkpoint, benefit from the position to sell kit bearing its logos. What is in very short evidence is continued support for Artemis Racing and Groupama Team France. Maybe there was little for either in the first place.
What there is in abundance, however, is universal support by the fans for a local product. Red hats embroidered with the black seal logo of the local distillers of rum, Goslings, are everywhere and proliferating at a great rate. It just goes to show what really counts among America’s Cup fans.
["The Last Post" is SAILING ILLUSTRATED's latest contributor, a consummate and veteran journalist of considerable repute – so much so that he, like The Fifth Beatle, has chosen to file under this clever nom de plume in the best traditions of American journalism dating back at least as far as that revolutionary-era writer Silence Dogood, a.k.a. Benjamin Franklin. This is his second submission from Bermuda. –TFE]