I think of the America's Cup and I think of the late Paul Holmes.

That remarkable "conversation" he had back in 1989 with an increasingly seething Dennis Conner ... to the point where Conner first flashed a sort of weak grin and then a very serious sneer and proceeded to unclip the little microphone from his jacket.

Paul had basically asked him if he was sorry for calling his Kiwi rivals a bunch of losers and would he consider apologising to them on his brand new chat show.

Dennis wasn't having a bar of it and stormed off the set.


And then came the moment which left me wondering how the American sailor ever managed to win a race.

The camera operator panned around to follow him walking off the set and he stormed out a door and turned right into the corridor and disappeared ... but then a couple of seconds later he reappeared ... walking past the door and heading the other way.

He'd got his directional compass slightly wrong in terms of how to leave the building.

It was a moment of television history which created plenty of reaction and basically sealed Holmes' place on the television and media landscape.

When I caught up with him a few years later he reminded me that I'd had a bit of a go at him in a column for pushing his "guest" too far.

With a grin, he said it appeared the column had been written by an elderly schoolteacher, not a middle-aged journalist.

I think I ended up buying him a drink.

And some years later I heard Dennis Conner had apparently passed through Napier while out here for some sailing event, but after trawling through every bar in West Quay for an entire day never came across him.


Had I, I would have gleefully asked "heard from Holmesy lately?"

So here we are ... in the televisual shade of the America's Cup sails yet again.

It was last staged four years ago and of course once again the hosts have introduced a swathe of strange rules to make things ever-so-slightly easier for them when it comes time to take on the challengers.

Which again, is us.

And it's in Bermuda of course although judging by the seascape I saw during a couple of races last week it could have been off the coast of the Isle of Wight in early winter.

During that last regatta of what were effectively nautical drag races I felt uneasy with what I was seeing, because those boats did not look like boats.

They emerged from the water at speed and it was not up to the design of the twin hulls to assist in gaining speed as the twin hulls hardly touched the briny.

It was the stalks protruding from them which did the steering and stability stuff.


Which of course is how it is all happening again, but something else has happened since 2013 ... I have actually started to adopt this outrageous alteration to what once were traditional single-hulled sailing boats with big "put 'em up pull 'em down" spinnakers and great mainsails.

It may have something to do with the fact that if those charged with helming these very fast things get something just slightly wrong they can pull up to stationary in mere seconds, or, at worse, nose dive.

They move with the wind and we (people like me who find dramatic change often difficult to adopt) must move with the times.

There have been a couple of heart-stoppingly close finishes and with the use of the startling graphics to show distances and turning points the races do become races ... and not just drag races.

And, hey, ain't it great that a small land like ours can end up jousting with, and at this stage dominating, a geographical and economically powerful place like the US.

But I think what really switched me over to taking more than just a passing interest in the present America's Cup was the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we could upset Donald Trump.

Because anything that upsets Donald ("Do we own Bermuda?") Trump is always the spark for him to respond and create much laughter with his ludicrous replies.

And yeah, we will upset Dennis Conner as well.

I can see him now, storming from his television lounge after Team New Zealand sneak through to take the seventh, and cup-winning, race from Oracle.

He'll head left up the hall but then realise the dunny is actually in the other direction and he'll hurriedly have to turn around.