Boating NZ : FREE TO READ March 2014
subscribe online at www.mags4gifts.co.nz/boating-nz 75 goodbye to the team and move on with life. “People are coming into my office and shaking my hand, doing the old man-hug and saying, ‘We’re off.’ And they are. They are going. It’s about quarter past five at night and they are starting to pull stuff down, which will take about a month. But they are gone. It’s done. It’s terrible. “This particular campaign hit full flight in October 2010. That’s three years. And that’s six days a week, sometimes more, of early starts, late finishes and now, bam, it’s done. That is the reality of the sport, and I understand that, but it doesn’t make you feel any better. It’s horrible.” Being involved in a single campaign like the America’s Cup monopolises the lives of those involved for years at a time. After wresting the Cup from the Americans in 1995, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that the teams took to the water in anger again. “It’s not just a normal job,” says Rae. “You live and breathe it. Every day, for years, you do whatever you can to try to win. “It’s such long hours, and it goes on, and on, and on, with very little time off. So you have got to have the right attitude to actually keep chugging along and keep pushing yourself at those levels for the entire time. “The shore crew are a classic example, the hours that they have to work are just horrendous and they have to be really flexible. They might think they are getting a Saturday or Sunday off and have made plans to go away, but then they get told the day before that something needs to be changed on the boat and they are going to be working until midnight both nights.” The sailors have a more regimented schedule, with regular, gruelling physical training sessions and boat-work or development jammed into the gaps between sailing days. Seeking normality, sailors tend to switch teams between cycles. The public often perceives this as being disloyal to the team but in the fickle world of sponsorship, it would be income folly to hold out for months, waiting for your preferred choice of team to get funding while turning down certain employment from other syndicates. The post-race slump affects friends and families, too. Lynda Rae has been, as she describes it, a “professional racer-chaser” since her husband Tony was involved in the 1987 America’s Cup challenge. “It’s always very sad at the end of a campaign, saying goodbye to all of your team friends,” Lynda says. “Often we don’t see them from one campaign to the next. When you are overseas, you see them nearly every day, but when you come home, you might not see them for a couple of years.” For the Volvo, Lynda Rae and their two daughters travel to the stopovers, but there can still be long periods in between. During the 1993 Whitbread Race, when Rae sailed aboard Grant Dalton’s New Zealand Endeavour, Lynda was on her own with the children for more than 100 days. “As a sailing widow you have to know how to run everything in a household and do everything by yourself,” Lynda says. “When Tony comes home, he does do a few things, but often he does upset the routine a little bit as I’m so used to doing things by myself.” But although his work day might involve foiling on a giant catamaran at 45 knots, or smashing through the Southern Ocean, Rae sometimes considers a desk job. “After one campaign,” says Rae, “I remember thinking, ‘Bugger this, I am just going to go home and buy a dairy or something.’ Just to have a normal job. “This is a bit of a joke because – as my wife told everyone – I wouldn’t last a week in a dairy. I’ve been very lucky to be able to sail for a New Zealand team for all seven AC campaigns and the four round-the- world races. It means a lot. “I’ve been very lucky to be with the NZ team for the past thirty years and to sail and work with some very cool people.” LEFT: Tony Rae, grinder for Team New Zealand for 20 years. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: With fellow crew Stuart Ballantyne, left, and skipper Chris Nicholson on Camper, ETNZ’s Volvo Ocean Race entry; a spritely run across ETNZ’s AC72 foiling cat; Rae’s known for being media-friendly; trimming on Camper, his fourth round-the-world race. Feature_Tony Rae_March14.indd 75 18/02/2014 6:13:30 p.m.
FREE TO READ April 2014
FREE TO READ February 2014