I’m a very proud Australian. I will never dispose of my Aussie passport, and I won’t become a New Zealand citizen unless the laws change and I’m held against a wall with a sheep pointed to my head.
As an expat living in the land of the long white cloud, I still get bullied for being an Aussie. The Kiwis love the game of bagging out their rivals, but at least when they do it it’s with their quirky and unique accents, and not with violent rampages.
I’ve been living in Auckland for almost five years now. Sure I miss Queensland, my Aussie mates and my family, but I truly love New Zealand, bad traffic, dodgy roads, endless sheep and all.
Kiwi’s love their sailing. It’s practically in the blood line over here. Sailing is something that most of the population does, or has tried, and if they haven’t, they still support the sailors competing in the America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race and the Olympic Games, just to name a few of the bigger events.
Witnessing the 2013 America’s Cup from this side of the ditch was a real eye opener for me. Crowds in their masses, young, old and in-between, gathered at homes, bars and sheds to watch Emirates Team New Zealand. And even though they lost the cup, the dedication towards the team hasn’t diminished. Actually, it’s almost grown stronger with the introduction of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.
Which leads me to my point. I’m cheering for the New Zealand at the Olympic Games.
This might come as a shock to some of my countrymen and women, but for me it makes perfect sense. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m cheering for the people on the boats, and if they happen to be racing for New Zealand, then so be it.
Working at Royal Akarana Yacht Club has given me the opportunity to stand alongside Pete and Blair, as well as 49erFX sailors, Alex Maloney and Molly Meech. These Olympic sailors train from my club whenever they are in Auckland. The club has become their peaceful sanctuary, a home away from home. Chill out time on the couches with uninterrupted briefing and de-briefing sessions, makes the club the ideal place for them.
Along the road, I’ve also been able to really chat with these sailors – become friends and get to know who they really are.
The thing about Pete, Blair, Alex and Molly is that they are completely down to earth. They may have the nation on their shoulders, but they take it in their stride. They are, and I say this with all good intentions, just sailors. Just sailors heading off to another regatta. Just sailors who want to do well and make their parents, extended family, friends and their country proud.
These four sailors have to be some of the nicest people that I have met, and I can’t wait to cheer them on as they race to win Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in just over a week.
I look outside my office window and keep a watchful eye on their boats, and lately, I’ve been visualising them smashing it at the Games.
Kiwi Kiwi Kiwi Oi Oi Oi!
Hmmmmm that doesn’t really have the same ring to it…