Grinder's wife all at sea after racing woes

By Imran Ali

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Whangarei-based airbrush artist Brad Walters shows off his handy work on a rudder used on Team New Zealand's hi-tech catamaran. Photo / Supplied
Whangarei-based airbrush artist Brad Walters shows off his handy work on a rudder used on Team New Zealand's hi-tech catamaran. Photo / Supplied

After an exhausting 10 weeks at the America's Cup venue Whangarei mum Suzy McAsey and her children will watch the rest of the action from home while her husband and Team New Zealand grinder Chris and crew slug it out in San Francisco.

She and daughters Brooke and Billie were expected to arrive home early today after multiple postponement of the race and Team NZ losing the last four races in a row have prolonged the competition.

Mrs McAsey said the recent wins by Oracle Team USA hadn't worried her husband or the rest of the crew.

After clinching four races to be sailed in a row, the Americans are now in full flight to wrest the 34th America's Cup back from Emirates Team New Zealand's grasp.

It was more heartache for Kiwi fans as Team NZ pulled up from a long way behind three times over two races but each time, Oracle managed to cover them and pull away again.

Mrs McAsey said from the cup venue yesterday that the latest losses were hurting but the crew have handled the situation well. "They seem pretty good ... they're not too worried, just keep chipping away and hopefully get that win and it will be all over."

But the protracted race has had an effect on her family.

"I am exhausted, the kids are exhausted. People back home have been watching the races for 10-12 days now but we've been here two and a half months.

"I've got a 1-year-old and a 5-year-old and Chris needs a bit of uninterrupted sleep."

Among the hordes of Kiwis at the cup venue is Northland joiner Andrew Hewlett, who watched yesterday's races at a pub about an hour's drive north of San Francisco, but planned to be at the race venue this morning.

He's lived in San Francisco for nine years and said the recent losses "sucked".

"Last four or five days, a lot of Americans have been coming down to the race venue and that makes me nervous but I think we'll win the next one because we can't have too many losses in a row.

"The other thing is the rivalry between them, let alone Dean Barker who's a Kiwi and James Spithill [Oracle skipper] who's an Aussie, and we know that when New Zealand and Australia play, it's the Kiwis that always win.

Meanwhile, Whangarei-based airbrush artist Brad Walters was paying particular attention to what rudders were on Team NZ's Black Cat. About a year ago he painted the iconic buzzy bee on to a pair of carbon-fibre rudders. He believed they were being used during the winning part of the campaign but hadn't seen them in the recent races.

"They need that bit of good luck. Perhaps they need to put them back on the boat."

A year ago he was approached by the team building the hi-tech cat to decorate the rudders. At the time it was top secret and he was unable to tell anyone about the work.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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