Team NZ put Top Gun and son to work

By Paul Lewis

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

"Unbelievable. Really extraordinary," said Cruise later. "I thought we were just going to get on 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 Aotearoa, transferred on to the 22-metre catamaran from the hospitality boat, on which he was a surprise guest, after the Kiwis cruised into the Louis Vuitton Cup final position yesterday. "We were put right on the grinders and got to, you know, work with the crew. It was remarkable actually, remarkable," he said.

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. "The guys loved it, they were absolutely buzzing."

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."

Connor said: "It was pretty crazy, it was fun. It's unbelievable."

Cruise's appearance on board the Team NZ hospitality boat was a real surprise, which Dalton said they had managed to keep secret. "That's one of the things about the America's Cup, opportunities money can't buy."

- NZ Herald

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