Final race exhilarating for Team NZ grinder

Posted at 1:59pm Wednesday 31 Mar, 2021

Team NZ grinder, Mike Lee of Red Beach (HM March 3), was on board for every second race, as the grinders were rotated.

Luck fell his way, and saw him grinding on what proved to be the final race against the Italians.
He says the Kiwi team went out confident they had a fast boat and a sharp crew but took nothing for granted.

“They are extremely difficult boats to sail, so we have to do our job right to the end. There's no letting go of the handles,” he says.

Grinders don't get to see the racing from their positions low in the boat. But just before the boat crossed the line, the word came through from skipper Peter Burling to “stick your head up and enjoy it boys”.

While still grinding, Mike looked back for a split second and enjoyed that moment.

Then there was the excitement of getting back to 40,000 people lining the viaduct, and the celebrations that went on all night.

Life has gone from high octane to fairly flat for team members now that racing is over. Mike is looking at returning to project management, and some sort of normality – the best part of which is more time with his family.

He would do it all again in a heartbeat.

“Best case we'll be waiting six months to hear what the future of the team and the Cup looks like,” he says. “Those decisions could even be 18 months or two years away.”

Meanwhile as a member of the NZ high performance surf lifesaving squad, he is jumping back into a surf ski for some training. A camp is coming up for the surf squad at the end of this month.

“Luckily grinding translates well to paddling, so I think I'll be ok,” he says.

Members of Gulf Harbour Yacht Club with the Americas Cup replica, Photo, Mike Pignéguy.

Club celebrates with Cup replica

Celebrations of Team NZ's America's Cup win had a special flavour at Gulf Harbour Yacht Club, as an exact replica of the Cup was on display.

The replica was loaned to the club by the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron for the function, held on March 20.  
The club had followed the racing closely, with live showings of every race that brought in people from their homes and, in some cases, off their boats, to see the race in the company of a lot of yachties.

Club member Mike Pignéguy skippered the Sky City spectator boat throughout the racing.

He says while it wasn't always possible to get a good view of the racing, it was exciting to be in the company of hundreds of spectator craft on the water.

“On a number of boats, fishing actually took precedence over the races, while some took the chance for a swim and others a good old singalong,” he says. “It all helped to create an unforgettable atmosphere, even if you couldn't see the race.”


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