Well, that was spectacular, the America’s Cup regatta off San Francisco. Deeply absorbing, highly thrilling, full of technology wonder and human drama. My heart goes out to Grant Dalton, Dean Barker and the crew of Aotearoa for a valiant effort. Inevitably questions will be asked about how we surrendered an 8-1 lead to an 8-9 loss. The magic of sport is that it does throw up extraordinary performances and this is what Oracle produced. You could sense and see their industry in getting their boat going faster, their crew performing better, their decisions sharper.

The CEOs of both teams, Grant Dalton and Russell Coutts, both New Zealanders, are personal friends but a mile apart in terms of temperament and approach. There was something especially Kiwi about seeing 56 year old Dalts grinding on the boat for several of the races; the boss in the trenches, one of the crew, on his way to what was seemingly going to be one of the great upsets in sports. New Zealand vs The World! Our DIY nation against the fortunes of the Oracle of industrial computing! Onshore and out of sight however, was the steely mind of engineering-trained Coutts, corralling his team and machine to wring both incremental and quantum improvements against the clock and eight match points.

It would be endlessly fascinating to ruminate on why New Zealand could not deliver the killer punch and inevitably an interrogation of national character will come into play. Do we need to be more ruthless? More seriously resourced? Less taciturn and more emotional? Are these even the right questions?

New Zealanders will have a decision to make over the coming months as to whether it continues its America’s Cup campaigns. We’ve been in them for about three decades now, and as Larry Ellison said in his post regatta comments, there would not be an America’s Cup today without New Zealanders. My personal view is that the Cup brings great visibility to our sophisticated technology industries and diversifies the view of New Zealand away from being all about sheep and cows. Despite our inability to close out the win, this Cup provides our trade marketers with fantastic material to position our high tech sector given their contributions to both Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA.

To paraphrase my mate Sean Fitzpatrick, “sport was the winner on the day.” Onwards!

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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