Yachting: Cruise watches on as Team NZ ease to victory

By Paul Lewis

Tom Cruise thought it was just going to be a journey back to the jetty. Instead, he and son 18-year-old son Connor were put to work on Emirates Team New Zealand's AC72 catamaran.

"Unbelievable. Extraordinary," said a grinning Cruise later. "I thought we were just going to get on a and just cruise back to the slip...but the next thing we hear, 'You're on this one; you're on that one. Go! Go! Faster! Faster! Slow! Stop!"

That was Tom Cruise, grinder, on board of Aotearoa, transferred onto the 72-foot catamaran from the hospitality boat, on which he was a surprise guest, after the Kiwis cruised into the Louis Vuitton Cup final yesterday.

Then it was Tom Cruise, skipper.

"We took them for a bit of a blat round San Francisco Bay," said Team NZ skipper Dean Barker yesterday, adding that they sailed under the Bay Bridge. "Tom jumped on the handlebars and probably did a better job than me."

So too did Cruise's son Connor, also on board. Barker said father and son held a competition to see who could make the catamaran go fastest.

Team NZ boss Grant Dalton said: "It was seriously cool. He steered for a while and we got up over 40 knots - it was perfect conditions - and the guys got a good buzz out of it. It was a kind of neat way to finish the round robin."

"You know it's athletic but when you're there...it's amazing," said Cruise. "It was a unique experience, incredible, a real privilege and I wish the team great success."

Maybe it was an omen. After all, the Kiwis have been Top Gun in this regatta so far and thought nothing of taking the Hollywood star on board once the race with Luna Rossa was over, Cruise was transferred from the hospitality boat to the deck of the racing catamaran, getting a crash course in foiling and steering one of the infamously difficult yachts.

There are all sorts of movie jokes available here. Cruise's latest film Edge of Tomorrow is a good description of the ahead-of-their-time AC72s; he was there to see Team NZ nudge Luna Rossa closer to Oblivion (his previous movie). He also didn't need to use the catch cry from arguably his best-known movie, Jerry Maguire ("Show me the money...") as about US$200m of expenditure was out there on the water in front of him.

Cruise's appearance aboard Legend, the yacht belonging to billionaire backer Matteo de Nora, which Team NZ use as a hospitality boat, was a real surprise, which Dalton said they had managed to keep secret.

- Herald on Sunday

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