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REPORTAGE. America’s Cup: The sea flows in the veins of New Zealanders. Sport

REPORTAGE. America’s Cup: The sea flows in the veins of New Zealanders. Sport

Pleasure boats (motorized or not), kayaks, jet skis, surfing, paddles: more than 1.5 million boats were registered in 2018 in New Zealand for only 5 million. Along the 16,000 km of coastline, over 120 sailing clubs. If the New Zealanders of passion for competition has materialized by the remarkable success in the America’s Cup, the sea is first in the land of the long white cloud (Aotearoa in Maori), a mode life, an institution.

135,000 boats

And Auckland, the largest city in the country (1.6 million inhabitants), is no exception to the rule. Bordered by the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, and built over fifty dormant volcanic cones and rainforests, Auckland offers a natural environment breathtaking. In each district, inlets, beaches, estuaries, and bush in the background, the beautiful Hauraki Gulf, better known abroad under the name Bay of Auckland. A bay about fifty islands (inhabited or not) with rugged coves, sandy beaches and a relatively mild climate, which allows navigation throughout the year.

A portrait of Peter Blake, iconic skipper in New Zéalande. | Celine Gourmelon

You can reach most of the islands by the Waitemata Harbor, right in the center. A city that has the largest number of boats per capita in the world (135,000 registered boats in 2014) and a marina, Westhaven, among the largest in the southern hemisphere.

Auckland is also a city that stretches out of sight. Because, except CBD buildings (central business district of), Kiwis (thus call themselves New Zealanders) continue to live in houses with garden near the sea.

Giant regattas in Auckland day

On either side of the Harbor bridge (the huge bridge that separates the northern districts of the rest of the city), bodies of water are continuously animated. By ferries filing the morning and evening workers; by ships that carry tourists; by ro-ro and container ship in the commercial port.

The Yacht Club of Auckland | Celine Gourmelon

Summer or winter, sailing clubs organize regattas. This is the case of the oldest and most prestigious of them: the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, club organizer of the America’s Cup, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2021. It is in the context of a sailing event, the anniversary Regatta, the city celebrates its anniversary every year since 1840 (date of birth). Open to all, this regatta is held on the last Monday in January and brings together boats of all kinds (windsurfing, old sailboat, multihulls, tugs, paddles, annexes and even radio controlled boats).

The silver ewer

An ideal environment to be the setting for the next America’s Cup. For a long time, the fame of Peter Blake far exceeded the boundaries to become a legend. Will it be the case of Peter Burling, the young helmsman of the winning boat in Bermuda in 2017? After 2000 and 2003, the city is preparing for a third edition (see cons below). An event that creates a strong passion and contributes to urban development of the port and industrial area of ​​the Viaduct Basin, became one of the most tourist places of the city center, where the permanent ballet of boats is observed.

The ewer silver trophy winner of the America’s Cup. | Celine Gourmelon

To the right, left, front, back, the sea is omnipresent. better how the money greetings and sailing victories ewer is understandable in the America’s Cup likes so well in this city also called City of sail (City of Sails).

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