As American Magic's fateful capsize showed, the 36th America's Cup has had no shortage of racing drama and excitement so far.
Less visible, however, are the many people and organisations working behind-the-scenes to ensure the international sporting event not only entertains and lifts our spirits, but also leaves a lasting mark on our communities and environment.
Auckland Unlimited General Manager – Destination Steve Armitage says past major events in Auckland have demonstrated the importance of using the events to maximise shared benefits, and the 36th America's Cup is no exception.
"With the America's Cup, we understand the unique opportunity we have to create a legacy for our region, and that legacy will include programmes and initiatives which lift our communities, waters and whenua," says Armitage.
Summernova, Auckland Unlimited's summer event series to wrap around the staging of the Cup, is one example of the campaign to create a positive social and environmental legacy in the wake of the racing.
Armitage says while Summernova features over 20 events including music, beach festivals and sports, it is also aimed at amplifying some of the social and environmental benefits of hosting the Cup.
"Together with partners like Sustainable Coastlines, we're using Summernova to raise awareness of the serious (environmental) issues going on just beneath the surface of the Hauraki Gulf and encouraging Aucklanders and visitors alike to think critically about their own behaviour," he says.
The Sustainable Coastlines Summernova Series will feature a mobile education station on high-impact sites during the racing, several large-scale beach clean-ups across the region and two sustainability workshops.
Sustainable Coastlines Chief Executive Josh Borthwick says: "The America's Cup is one of the most watched water-based events in the world, so there is no better time to focus attention on the plight of our precious oceans, which are under severe threat from litter and pollution."
Other Summernova partners are leveraging their event platforms for good, including Island Time on Motutapu, a food and wine festival on one of the Hauraki Gulf's most precious taongas. Together with local iwi Ngai Tai Ki Tamaki, organisers are using the event to help guests gain a greater understanding of the island and its cultural significance with a portion of ticket sales going to support Project Kiwi's conservation efforts.
Waterbourne Beach Festival, a large-scale watersports and beach festival at Takapuna Beach is also focusing on education to not only encourage the protection of New Zealand's coastlines but to help rebuild them. Waterbourne's programme includes water safety courses and beach clean-ups.
And it's not only festivalgoers who are making the most of the events. An estimated 30,000 school children across the country are also doing their bit for the environment in coming weeks.
The 21 Day Challenge, one of five educational programmes taking place alongside the America's Cup during Term 1 this year, will see more than 1000 classrooms across New Zealand participate in a 21-day guided inquiry which among other initiatives, includes picking up at least one piece of rubbish per day – much of which might otherwise end up in our oceans.
The challenge is designed to inspire children to contribute to restoring the health of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, the waters across which the cup boats spectacularly hurtle in the bid to win - or in Emirates Team New Zealand's case retain - the prized trophy.
Creator of the programme, Steve Hathaway, says leveraging the 36th America's Cup, the largest international sporting event since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic was an obvious choice.
"A large event like the America's Cup has a massive opportunity to leave a legacy," Hathaway says.
"While the eyes of the world are marvelling at these incredible boats, we have an opportunity to show a slice of New Zealand that the world doesn't know about – how magnificent it is underneath that surface."
Armitage says there has been a strong pick-up by schools: "Since Covid people have had a greater appreciation of their own backyard and the need to preserve the environment and we are using the Cup to help people focus on these issues.
"I have a seven-year-old daughter and she is already well in tune with the world around her," he says. "She is far more conscious of environmental issues than I was at the same age and the more we can do to get young people involved, the better it will be in the longer term," he says.
For more information go to: summernova.co.nz