Apprenticeships, business for local marine manufacturers and new-boat sales could all rise

Team New Zealand’s 35th America’s Cup victory over Oracle USA yesterday should be a big win for the country’s boating industry. When Team NZ’s helmsman Peter Burling steered his country’s raceboat across the finish line just seconds ahead of Oracle, New Zealand suddenly became the most likely destination for the next event.

With victory came jubilation across New Zealand. “We probably don’t realise how big a deal this is back in New Zealand,” Grant Dalton, CEO of Emirates Team New Zealand, said after his team won its eighth and final race of the series. “I’ve been told that there was traffic jams at 4am with people trying to get to work just to see the races, which is utterly incredible.”

“I was such a proud Kiwi,” Peter Busfield, executive director of the NZ Marine Industry Association, told “What took me was the way Grant Dalton held that cup – you can imagine every day and night he spent for the past eight years chasing his dream, from the depths of San Francisco and to step up after that.”

Like millions of his countrymen, Busfield’s euphoria should have long-term results for New Zealand’s marine industry. “It’s enormous for our industry, awe-inspiring,” he said. “The profiling and the credibility of New Zealand-made design, people and equipment worldwide will gain substantially from this.”

Boatbuilders and suppliers in New Zealand had already contributed to Oracle’s and Team NZ’s boats. Team USA’s boats were built by Core Builders of Warkworth and Team NZ’s by Southern Spars of Avondale. Dozens of other Kiwi suppliers contributed to both campaigns, ranging from sailmakers to engineering firms.

Busfield thinks that yesterday’s victory could have a larger impact on the country’s boating industry than Sir Peter Blake’s win in 1995, which worked to “open the front door” during the 1990s.

“Winning the Cup in 1995 gave Auckland a new ‘front door’, with the building of the Via-duct Harbour,” said Busfield. “We must take this opportunity to think in an innovative way to make New Zealand an even more attractive country for our international visitors, as well as those of us who call it home.”

The desire for apprentices to enter the boating sector should increase after the America’s Cup win. “We have 420 apprentices nationwide, in 190 companies at the moment, so we have a culture of training, and those companies are likely to want more apprentices signing up to build our capability and export even more,” Busfield said. He also expects yacht club memberships to surge, which would prompt gains in new-boat sales.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, which Team NZ represented, will now have to decide where the next America’s Cup will be held. Busfield, among millions of Kiwis, hopes it will be Auckland.

Meanwhile, the London Times reported today that Dalton hinted that the race could return to the days of monohulls. “It’s important that we don’t take away from the yachting aspect of it,” he said. “It’s still a race of yachtsmen and pumping oil round a boat isn’t necessarily yachting in one sense.”