America's Cup: How rugby game put dent in Cup

By Paul Lewis

Dean Barker holding it in Valencia in 2007. Photo / AP
Dean Barker holding it in Valencia in 2007. Photo / AP

Is that the Louis Vuitton Cup? Or a rugby ball?

Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton apparently let a six-year-old cat out of the bag at the official Louis Vuitton prizegiving dinner on Tuesday.

In the midst of what those present said was a superb speech, Dalton's mischievous sense of humour emerged again.

The Louis Vuitton Cup won in 2007 was, he told a large crowd of black-tied dignitaries, maybe not quite the same Louis Vuitton Cup as before ETNZ won in Valencia.

The trophy is regularly updated anyway but Dalton's tale had to do with a refurbishment that was news to Louis Vuitton people - to a man and woman among world sport's most charming and willing sponsors and the holders of the record (30 years) of the longest continuous sponsorship in sport.

Well, said Dalton, New Zealanders are well known for loving rugby. In the celebrations after beating Luna Rossa for the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007, there might have been an impromptu game.

There might have been a dropped pass, he said, or words to that effect. Team New Zealand bowman Jeremy Lomas was not known for his good hands. Lomas has been with Dalton since round-the-world yacht race days and is a veteran of the 2000, 2003 and 2007 America's Cups.

Faced with a slightly damaged trophy of world renown, Emirates Team New Zealand did the only decent thing. They fixed it. The hi-tech ETNZ engineering workshop swung into action.

The cup was restored to its full glory although there may have been, for those in the know, a little inscription hidden inside. It reads, apparently, something like: "We damaged it, we fixed it."

The workmanship appears to have been good enough to pass muster with the exacting quality controllers at Louis Vuitton.

It was the second time in two days that Dalton's quick humour struck. At the Louis Vuitton press conference after Team NZ won the cup, TVNZ's Martin Tasker put up his hand to ask a question.

Tasker was the one caught out by a live microphone during a telecast of the Louis Vuitton as he made an entirely innocent comment which sounded a lot worse than intended - and which rocketed round the internet.

To ask his question at the press conference, Tasker was handed a microphone. Quick as a flash, Dalton said: "The mike's on, Martin, it's live." The sailors don't often get the chance to put one over the media and the crowd broke up in laughter as Tasker struggled to get his question out.

- NZ Herald

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