AUCKLAND – An article on today's stuff.co.nz website (Fairfax News) by Duncan Johnstone is headlined, "Team NZ boss Grant Dalton revels in Peter Burling v Blair Tuke round the world duel." The article is not much more than a re-hash of what SAILING ILLUSTRATED's editor-at-large aka "The Fifth Beatle" has reported over the past week about the Volvo Ocean Race and the participation by key ETNZ sailors Burling and Tuke (both NZL).
In a nutshell ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton is happy that both are onto other sailing challenges during the AC hiatus between Bermuda and 2020-2021 in AKL, while the Volvo contracts help keep the superstars employed for the next year. It goes without saying that it also helps take some pressure off Mr Dalton's AC budget, at least for the time being. He also made the fair points that this next edition of the VOR, starting in October with a three-week Auckland stopover (February 24 through March 18, 2018) will "help give the country a real interest in the event which a New Zealand boat hasn't entered since Team New Zealand's CAMPER finished second in the 2011-12 edition." Dalton went on to say that he believes "his trio of Cup winners will be better sailors and better people for the experience." (ETNZ cyclor Carlo Huisman is also racing on Team Brunel.)
But here's the interesting tidbit. "Team New Zealand's designer Guillaume Verdier (FRA) is designing the foiling monohull that will feature in the 2019 Volvo, giving the Kiwis a feel for what looms." That's not a Dalton quote, but a simple, and seemingly innocent sentence in Mr Johnstone's piece. Taken together with Mr Dalton's remark during his post-win valedictory press conference in Bermuda that the next Cup will have closer ties with the Volvo Ocean Race, it does present interesting possibilities. Reading the AC36 tea leaves, do you see Lipton's or Twinings?
Blair Tuke at the wheel of MAPFRE with Volvo Ocean Race rival, and ETNZ teammate, Peter Burling's Team Brunel in his wake during one of the Leg Zero stages last week. Photo: Ugo Fonolla / Volvo Ocean Race